British Columbia

Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish receives permit to build

A liquefied natural gas project near Squamish, B.C., is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The project must meet environmental conditions but activists in the area are still concerned

The Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish, B.C., has received the necessary approvals to begin construction which the company says it plans to do later this year. (Woodfibre LNG rendering)

A liquefied natural gas project near Squamish, B.C., is one step closer to becoming a reality. 

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission approved a facilities permit allowing Woodfibre LNG to build and operate a facility, as long as the Vancouver-based company complies with certain conditions. 

"It's an important milestone for our project because this will now allow us to move to construction, which we plan to do later this year," said David Keane, president of Woodfibre LNG. 

Woodfibre LNG is a $1.6 billion project planned for the site of the old pulp mill about seven kilometres southwest of Squamish, which will process and liquefy natural gas shipped by pipeline from northern B.C. for export to Asian markets.

The company had applied for the permit a few months ago in April, and it was approved July 2. 

Environmental concerns

Woodfibre has previously gone through three environmental assessments,  Keane said, and has to meet a number of environmental, archeological and technical conditions. 

The Squamish First Nation council also voted to approve the project last November after negotiating a benefits agreement that could see the First Nation receiving over $225 million in cash over 40 years.

That approval required the project to meet 25 legally binding environmental conditions.

"The Woodfibre LNG project will produce the cleanest LNG in the world, by far and away," Keane said.

Environmentalists say they are bitterly disappointed with the project's go-ahead, citing concerns over the safety of the proposed storage tanks, flaring activity and greenhouse gas emissions (CBC)

Environmentalists in the area are not convinced. 

"We are bitterly disappointed but not surprised [by this permit]," said Eoin Finn, research director of the environmental NGP My Sea to Sky. 

"We will now have the single biggest point source emission in all of Metro Vancouver right on the doorstep of Howe Sound."

He pointed to concerns around safety of the proposed storage tanks, flaring activity, greenhouse gas emissions and the opposition of municipal leaders in the area. 

"We have a government that does not seem to recognize that we have a climate crisis and should act accordingly," he said.

"This is a government that has sworn to protect the coast. We see this as a dereliction of its duty."