Pacific NorthWest LNG will not confirm nor deny reports that they are entertaining moving the berthing area for its proposed project on Lelu Island.
The change, if made, could save the company as much as $1 billion off the projected $11 billion pricetag and alleviate many of the controversial environmental concerns.
“Pacific NorthWest LNG is conducting a total project review over the coming months. During this time, the project is continuing to work with area First Nations, stakeholders, and regulators, to manage any potential impacts through mitigation measures and design optimization,” Spencer Sproule, Pacific NorthWest LNG spokesperson stated in an e-mail to The Northern View when asked of the potential move.
While Sproule would not verify the speculation, it is possible that the company could lease land on Ridley Island that wasn’t available when the project was first proposed and designed.
In June 2016, Canpotex Inc., withdrew from its proposed $775-million potash export terminal on Ridley Island. The proponent made the decision based on economic and commercial consideration — now that lot remains empty.
Canpotex had signed a lease agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority in 2014. That same year, Pacific NorthWest LNG decided to alter the design of its project to include the trestle and suspension bridge for its docking facility in Chatham Sound — working with the land and area that was available to them at that time.
Altering the design of the project on Ridley Island may assuage environmental concerns over Flora Bank.
Currently, the facility would build a mile-long trestle suspension bridge from the LNG plant out into the ocean over Flora Bank, a significant eelgrass bed and an important habitat for juvenile salmon. A number of environmental and First Nations groups have strenuously objected to this plan and have launched court proceedings.
Changing the location of PNWLNG’s docking facility would have to be reviewed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which would again lengthen the timeline of the project. As for now, nothing has been confirmed, however the company has said it is expected to make a decision by summer 2017.