Environmentalists’ demand for a second opinion has failed to provoke an extra federal government review of the supply pipeline for the first Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project.
After a regulatory contest over the division of powers in the Canadian constitution, the National Energy Board (NEB) ruled late Friday that no federal duplication is needed for British Columbia’s (BC) approval of Coastal Gaslink (CGL).
The ruling echoed the Attorney General of Canada’s rejection of the demand for a second lengthy regulatory procedure from veteran BC green crusaders Mike Sawyer and Ecojustice. The Attorney General of BC also opposed a federal jurisdiction takeover.
CGL would “function as an express single-purpose pipeline for one downstream facility -- the LNG Terminal,” the NEB said.
The C$6.2 billion ($4.6 billion) CGL would cross no borders to carry up to 5 Bcf/d in 48-inch diameter pipe for 400 miles from northern BC natural gas fields to the LNG Canada terminal on the Pacific coast.
The terminal partners -- Royal Dutch Shell plc, Petronas, Mitsubishi Corp., PetroChina Corp. and Korea Gas Corp. -- own all CGL shipping capacity, control access to the pipeline and future expansions, and are developing their own gas reserves for their exports, the NEB noted. Shell said it would move forward with the LNG project late last year and said the plant would be online and shipping by the mid-2020s.
The board also observed that although TC Energy Corp. would build and operate CGL as a service contractor and aspires to become a terminal supplier, no role has emerged yet for its federally regulated BC and Alberta grid, Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL). TC Energy announced construction contracts in June for work to start on CGL.
The NEB rated a delivery connection between CGL and NGTL as probable, but added that they would remain separate services, with TC Energy’s grid destined to be one of many suppliers for a pure export terminal that has no Canadian customers.
“The project is a local work” and being overseen “properly” by BC, ruled the NEB. Sawyer said he would consult his lawyer about possible appeals of the NEB decision.
CGL applauded the ruling with a statement that pointed out its pipeline “was fully approved and permitted following extensive consultation with local and Indigenous communities, and a rigorous multi-year review that considered potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects.”