VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has resumed their review of the LNG export proposal for Pacific NorthWest LNG, after a more than six month delay.
According to the Globe and Mail, Petronas-owned Pacific NorthWest LNG has expressed their interest in building a $11.4 billion terminal on Lelu Island, off of the coast of Prince Rupert.
The assessment started up again on Dec. 11. If delays hadn’t occurred, it would have been day 263 of the 365-day process. CEAA spokeswoman Karen Fish said, in a statement, ‘the agency reviewed the proponent’s final response and determined that it adequately responds to the June 2, 2015, letter.’
The latest pause has had the project halted since early June. CEAA sent Pacific NorthWest LNG a letter stating there was a need for more scientific information to be submitted; environmental groups, including the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, have concerns about the risk to salmon habitat on Flora Bank, should the project come to fruition.
Since their review started in April 2013, CEAA has paused five times in their review.
Energy experts say the regulator could be in a position to issue a first-draft report as early as January; issued simultaneously with a separate document outlining environmental concerns and conditions for the consortium to follow carefully.
After the draft report and the conditions are released, the CEAA says the public will be invited to submit their views during a 30-day comment period, looking especially for input from Aboriginal groups.
A final decision is expected from CEAA this upcoming in the spring, industry observers say.
President of Pacific NorthWest LNG Michael Culbert says he is optimistic that fresh scientific studies commissioned by the consortium will be beneficial for new discussions with the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation Band Council.
“With the Lax Kw’alaams, we’re looking to re-engage with the new mayor, council and hereditary chiefs to provide them with information,” Culbert told the Globe and Mail. “The first and best information to provide is obviously this new submission to CEAA and the science associated with that.”
There are 20 LNG proposals on B.C.’s table, but only three or four projects have a steady chance of becoming reality, according to analysts.