Woodfibre moves to the front of the LNG pack

A rendering of the proposed facility west of Squamish

Company expects to make final investment decision as early as this year

With a green light from the federal Ministry of Environment, WoodFibre’s $1.6-billion proposal for a liquified natural gas plant outside of Squamish moves one step closer to construction this week. On Friday evening, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency issued its verdict on Woodfibre LNG, stating that the project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” and issued a list of conditions that include mitigation measures and follow-up requirements for the plant—among them, connecting the plant to the electric grid.

The approval is a “milestone” that “moves us to the permitting phase,” said Woodfibre vice-president of corporate affairs Byng Giraud on Monday. Woodfibre, he says, could possibly make a final investment decision by the end of 2016. With plans to export 2.1 million tonnes of LNG per annum, Woodfibre LNG is relatively small compared compared to projects like LNG Canada and PNW LNG proposed in Kitimat and Prince Rupert, both of which plan to export around 15 million tonnes per annum. 

“The [project] underwent a thorough, science-based environmental assessment that considered public and Indigenous input and views,” said federal Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna, in a statement late Friday. “The process benefited from scientific and technical expertise, Indigenous traditional knowledge and constructive feedback that helped to inform my decision.” 

Friday’s decision ends the environmental assessment phase of the project, making it the first of roughly two dozen LNG projects proposed for the B.C. Coast to make it this far. And it’s already shifting into the next phase, contracting services to an engineering firm that will help Woodfibre reduce the overall cost of its proposal, says Giraud. On Monday, WoodFibre announced that it had awarded a contract for design and engineering services, for an undisclosed sum, to Houston-based KBR. In a statement, the firm said that work for the first phase of Woodfibre would be booked into its backlog of unfilled orders for the first quarter of 2016. Woodfibre is a subsidiary of Pacific Oil & Gas and itself a subsidiary of Singapore-based Royal Golden Eagle Group—which co-owns LNG import facilities in China.

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