Regional district cautious over LNG

“There are too many unanswered questions,” says RDBN.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) recently announced it is taking a careful approach to liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in the region.

The RDBN issued a press release saying the pipeline construction process has the potential to “negatively impact local communities” and place a burden on local infrastructure and services.

The RDBN says there are too many unanswered questions regarding the location, operation, and servicing of the large work camps to be built in the rural area. In addition, there is inadequate commitment to utilize wood fibre cut from the pipeline routes, and there is no long-term commitment to support invasive plant management. Furthermore, the RDBN points out that emergency management “remains uncoordinated.”

The press release says the RDBN has been engaging with LNG pipeline proponents and the province to ensure that “potential negative effects associated with pipeline construction are mitigated.” It also says the RDBN is working to ensure that the community will benefit from the economic benefits that would come from LNG development.

“The RDBN will continue in its attempts to engage with the province and LNG pipeline proponents on behalf of the region’s residents.”

“The hope is that the pipeline development industry will work proactively with communities and local governments in a meaningful way,” says the RDBN. “With pipeline construction potentially beginning as early as 2016, the opportunity is slipping away.”

There are a number of LNG pipelines being proposed in Northern B.C., including TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline project and the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline; Spectra’s Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline; and Chevron’s Pacific Trail Pipeline.

According to the provincial government, over the next 20 years, global demand for natural gas is expected to rise due to economic growth in Asia. The province says developing LNG export potential in B.C. will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new investment.

There are currently 20 LNG proposals across the province involving over 30 investment partners in various stages of development. As of June 2015, 10 projects had received export licenses from the National Energy Board, and seven LNG projects – three facilities and four pipelines – had received environmental certificates from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.

The province says that if just five LNG projects are built, it could contribute more than $1 trillion to the provincial economy over the next 30 years.