While both the pipeline to feed the terminal and the site of the project itself face legal challenges from Northwest First Nations, Pacific NorthWest LNG president Michael Culbert says the company is optimistic heading into the new year.
“We are now awaiting approval from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), which has a very thorough review process … we’re hopeful that, when the election is done, CEAA will have the information it needs to make that recommendation,” he said.
“We’re very hopeful we can move forward with construction very quickly and are positioning ourselves to do that,” he said.
Culbert acknowledged the court challenges, specifically the title claim launched by the Lax Kw’alaams, but noted the company is not claiming ownership of Lelu Island and that it is under federal jurisdiction.
As for the concerns around salmon, Culbert said both he and CEAA are having ongoing discussions with stakeholders around that issue.
“We’re having ongoing discussions with the federal government, with scientists and with First Nations chiefs and representatives … the key desire of everyone is to have minimal, if any, impact on salmon and their habitat,” he said.
“We’re excited to move forward. As we move through the project, the science supports the idea of a minimal impact to fish and that any impact there might be can be mitigated with the current acceptable measures.”
Culbert’s comments come on the heels of the annual LNG in B.C. conference in Vancouver, which Culbert said shows continued interest in growing the industry.
“I have been fortunate to attend all three of the government sponsored conferences. What I saw initially was that in 2013 it was a new industry with a glimmer of hope and last year expanded on that with a significant number of proponents and international investors,” he said.
“This year that continued with proponents, First Nations and major international LNG players attending … although the numbers are down, I saw it as less tire kicking and more serious discussions.”