TransCanada Corp. has completed acquiring all government permits to lay the jumbo northern pipeline required by the Asian entry in the lineup of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal projects on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission granted TransCanada final approval to build Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (PRGT) for the Pacific NorthWest LNG consortium of Petronas subsidiary Progress Energy, Sinopec, JAPEX, Indian Oil Corp. and Petroleum Brunei.

PRGT, forecast to cost C$5 billion (US$3.8 billion), would cross 900 kilometers (540 miles) of foothills, mountains, muskeg swamps, forests and ocean inlets west to Prince Rupert, a seaport near the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle.

The conduit, using pipe up to 48 inches in diameter, is designed to open with capacity for 2 Bcf/d then increase deliveries when required to 3.6 Bcf/d by adding compressors. The route includes 110 kilometers (66 miles) of seafloor pipe to reach the LNG terminal and tanker dock that Pacific NorthWest proposes to build on Lelu Island as an addition to Prince Rupert’s port facilities.

PRGT is dedicated to serving Pacific NorthWest and will only be installed if the LNG terminal is built. The same goes for a C$1.6 billion (US$1.2 billion) extension called the North Montney Mainline that the National Energy Board (NEB) has authorized TransCanada to add to its BC and Alberta supply collection grid, Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.

The pair of pipelines would be filled with shale gas that the Pacific NorthWest group is developing in northeastern BC in a rich geological formation known as the Montney that carpets territory west of the Alaska Highway.

PRGT chief Tony Palmer said, “Receiving the full complement of 11 pipeline and facility permits is a major milestone for the project and concludes an exhaustive regulatory process that we embarked on more than two years ago.”

Just before TransCanada received its final permits, Progress “resident Mike Culbert told a Calgary industry conference that the LNG terminal project is “very close” to starting construction as early as first quarter 2016.

Pacific NorthWest announced a conditional final investment decision to go ahead in June. The conditions included a favorable tax and royalty agreement, which was concluded with the BC government during the summer, and an acceptable outcome to a review currently under way by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. TransCanada and Pacific NorthWest also continue to seek co-operation and benefits agreements with more than 30 coastal and inland aboriginal communities affected by the LNG scheme.