Petronas LNG project chief sees investment decision in months

A rendering of the Pacific Northwest LNG project.

CALGARY, A.B. — A new Reuters News Agency report is suggesting Petronas and its Pacific NorthWest LNG consortium partners hope to make a decision within months whether to move forward with the project.

“Depending on the timing of the CEAA decision, we would hope that by late summer or early fall we would be in a position to follow up on (a final investment decision),” president of Pacific NorthWest LNG Michael Culbert said in a phone interview with Reuters.

Culbert also says further delays to the environmental review could push back the investment decision timeline. He has been president since the fall of 2014, but is stepping down to focus on his duties as chief executive officer of Calgary-based Progress Energy, which was acquired by Petronas in 2012, and taking on the new role of Petronas Country Chair for Canada.

The Malaysian national oil and gas company also owns a 62 per cent stake in the $36-billion proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project and leads the consortium seeking to build an $11.4-billion LNG export terminal on Lelu Island on B.C.’s northwest coast.

Culbert believes whether the LNG project goes ahead or not, depends largely on final conditions imposed by Canada’s environmental regulator, and Pacific Northwest is now working to address the agencies final round of questions.

Once that’s done, the Trudeau government  have promised the company will have its decision on the project within three months. But, the Reuters report says Culbert believes it’s fair to say some of the agencies’ conditions in last February’s draft review were ‘not realistic’ for a construction project of this magnitude.

Meantime, industry sources say the LNG price cycle continues to underscore difficulties in timing the construction of all proposed multi-billion dollar projects which take years to come on line.

Chevron CEO John Watson was recently quoted in a Bloomberg report as suggesting companies have to focus on long-term natural gas demand which is expected to grow by 35 per cent over the next 20 years.

But that report also said the over-supplied LNG market is in hiatus right now, as energy giants like Chevron await a surge of demand from countries seeking access to energy.

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