Industry leader urges local businesses to be cautious in wake of Pacific NorthWest annoucement

The proposed export facility of Pacific NorthWest LNG. (File Photo)

Government officials are praising the announcement last week of a conditional approval by Pacific NorthWest LNG on its $36-billion terminal project, but a local industry insider is warning businesses not to jump the gun in ramping up their operations.

The company announced on Thursday it would move ahead with a final investment decision on two simple conditions — approvals by both the provincial government, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

“It’s news we’ve been waiting for for many years. For us up here it’s that decision we need for confidence in the community,” said Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer, reacting to the news that the required technical and commercial components of the Pacific Northwest LNG Project have been satisfied.

Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman says for all intents and purposes the Petronas-led group has made the final decision to move forward with the Prince Rupert area project, which would liquefy and export natural gas produced by Progress Energy here in the northeast.

Mr. Coleman says a decision to reconvene the legislature for government project blessing will likely be made this week, and work on the Prince Rupert area plant at the head of Skeena River is likely to be begin this summer.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is expected to issue its review later this year.

“If those two last conditions are done, then we have a final investment decision because all the commercial pieces of the project… are in place and completed,” Coleman said.

“They are in a position to go ahead with this project.”

Still the $36-billion project faces significant opposition, and in this area, just two days before the announcement, Blueberry River First Nations leaders again raised consultation and treaty rights complaints, confirming they’ve instructed their lawyers to move forward with a challenge of Mr. Coleman’s decision to enter into a long-term royalty agreement with Progress Energy.

So from the Executive Director of Energy Services BC comes a note of caution, and Art Jarvis suggests, we still haven’t crossed the LNG development finish line.

“This isn’t really a final investment decision. I would suggest anyone basing the growth of their company to be very cautious regarding any debt decisions,” Jarvis said.

“We could be quite a ways away from another huge upswing or boom, we just have to wait and see what the summer brings, because it’s still very uncertain.”