Does Malaysian LNG Mega-Project for BC Coast Need Environmenal Assessment?
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is seeking public input on whether or not to hold a federal environmental assessment process for a proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) mega-project on BC’s north coast. The plant, dubbed Pacific Northwest LNG, is designed to turn natural gas from northeast BC into super-cooled liquid so it can be shipped to new markets in Asia, currently paying a higher price for the commodity.
Citizens have until March 11 to let the government know whether the proposal for Prince Rupert – one of half a dozen slated for that community and nearby Kitimat – should undergo a thorough environmental assessment.
Project proponent Progress Energy became a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysian state-owned energy giant Petronas in December, when Stephen Harper approved the controversial buyout. The decision followed lengthy deliberations, during which time Harper was pressured directly by the Malaysian Prime Minister.
Just prior to that, the two companies announced their intention to proceed with the $9-11 Billion project, regardless of the fate of the buyout, but indicated the project’s size would vary accordingly.
A Financial Post story at the time noted, “If the takeover bid is a go, the LNG plant, named Pacific Northwest LNG, will export two billion cubic feet a day of liquefied natural gas. If the bid is not approved, the two companies will continue as separate entities and work on a plant with the capacity to export 1.2 billion cubic feet a day. Either way, the project will proceed at an ‘aggressive’ pace.”
Petronas’ mega-project is far from the only LNG plant proposed for BC’s coast. There are at least five major projects proposed by a host of North American, Asian and European natural gas players – some of which have already received some level of approval. These include Kitimat LNG, of which Chevron just purchased a majority stake, and Kitimat-based, Shell-led LNG Canada, a consortium which includes Japanese, Chinese and Korean partners.
These plants are a key piece of a promised natural gas boom that is a central plank in the BC Liberals’ economic and election platform. They also bring with them considerable environmental and economic concerns – from the shaky financial foundation of the nascent industry to the water and air contamination caused by fracking – a controversial, new technique used for harnessing much of the gas that would feed these LNG plants.
The plants themselves would create local air pollution and carbon emissions, as they plan to burn some of their own product to to meet the enormous energy demands of processing gas into liquid.
Progress/Petronas’ project description is available to download here. Comments can be emailed to GNLPacificNorthwestLNG@ceaa-acee.gc.ca – or see mailing and fax info here.