Native cooperation deals have been sealed with all elected tribal governments along the supply pipeline planned for the Royal Dutch Shell plc-led LNG Canada proposal to start natural gas exports from British Columbia (BC), TransCanada Corp. said Thursday.
Support by all 20 aboriginal settlements on the C$4.8 billion ($3.8 billion) Coastal GasLink 670-kilometer (416-mile) path to the proposed Pacific coast liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal at Kitimat stands out as “an important milestone,” said project President Rick Gateman.
“When we first began this project over six years ago, our goal was to build more than just relationships with First Nations communities in BC” Gateman said. “It was to build trusted partnerships, and that has made all the difference.”
TransCanada continues to seek unanimous native support for its planned natural gas supply line to the Pacific by also closing agreements with all hereditary tribal leaders in the northern BC communities touched by the project, he added.
A handful of traditional chiefs has not yet signed. TransCanada described itself as “optimistic that additional agreements may be reached in the near future, should the project receive a positive final investment decision (FID) from LNG Canada.”
The deals differ among the aboriginal groups. Terms vary to satisfy local targets for jobs, business opportunities and revenues from a line designed to deliver up to 5 Bcf/d with jumbo pipe 48 inches in diameter.
Coastal GasLink in July awarded C$620 million ($496 million) in construction contracts to BC natives. At the same time, the project predicted the aboriginal work content would eventually grow to C$1 billion ($800 million).
Completion of the native cooperation deals followed a show of support by 14 northern BC towns, where the mayors fired off a public letter urging an environmental activist to stop trying to derail the LNG project before the National Energy Board (NEB).
A green voice in the northern forest products town of Smithers, Mike Sawyer, alarmed the mayors by demanding NEB approval for Coastal GasLink. No lone crusader, he has support from a Vancouver agency with international funding, West Coast Environmental Law. The NEB is reviewing Sawyer’s demand, while Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada operate with BC permits.
“We recognize it is your right to file a jurisdictional challenge,” said the mayors, but the BC gas industry growth would generate gains, including environmental advances, that outweigh legalistic fine points raised by Sawyer.
“The development of this project would create billions of dollars in taxes for all levels of government, which will support programs that are important to all of us, such as education, healthcare, infrastructure and funding for environmental sustainability initiatives,” the mayors wrote.
All the construction contracts have been conditionally awarded, to be done only if the international LNG Canada consortium led by Shell issues a positive FID to build the proposed C$14 billion ($11 billion) Kitimat terminal.
The project remains under review. The BC government has given LNG Canada until November to accept an incentive offer of C$6 billion ($4.8 billion) in provincial income, sales and carbon tax cuts.