Derek Baker’s vocal chords tested their limits this past week when the Pacific NorthWest LNG community relations advisor gave three presentations to various councils and boards on the status of the company’s LNG export project.
First appearing before the North Coast Regional District (NCRD) on the evening of Oct. 21, Baker and Tessa Gill, head of external affairs at Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) answered the board’s questions around the facility on Lelu Island, specifically around contingency efforts should there be a spill or similar issue transporting the product from the harbour to its customers. Baker and Gill later presented to the councils of the City of Prince Rupert and the District of Port Edward.
Gill explained that the company is always in ongoing discussion with various regulators and agencies regarding risk assessment, but that PNW LNG is also awaiting the results of its TERMPOL process (Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems and Transshipment Sites), which will outline in detail things like vessel safety, loading and unloading and transporting the product.
“The first thing you want to do is prevent, mitigate and then look at your contingency planning, so I think one of the things that the proponent has to do with the regulators, because this is a discussion with Transport Canada, the regulators [and] Coast Guard – is [say] what is the emergency response contingency planning for the type of vessels that come into the area?” said Gill.
“We don’t see all the results of that yet, but that’s a discussion we know is ongoing … I’d encourage the board to reach out and say we’re interested in having that discussion on those TERMPOL results with this proponent.”
NCRD director Des Nobels also asked who monitors PNW LNG’s emission reports and the wetlands offsetting program.
Gill said that it’s the climate action secretariat in B.C. that oversees the plant’s emissions as a third-party and double checks PNW LNG’s gauges and systems.
In discussing wetlands compensation, Baker mentioned that the company has a responsibility to provide double the productive wetlands somewhere else for every amount of lost lands associated with the project.
“We have to do everything in our power to keep that wetlands productive … If it’s an unavoidable loss, we have a responsibility to ensure we have a 2:1 compensation for wetlands lost,” said Baker.
Gill added that the company has identified areas where wetlands can be provided for.
“The best benefits for offsetting, and the most effective, is actually in the region or as close to the area that you’re disturbing, so we would welcome some input and some feedback on some areas that need help [being rehabilitated],” Gill mentioned.
NCRD chair Barry Pages asked if the company has a timeline around a final investment decision and the representatives stated that one has not been provided by the shareholders at this time.
“Obviously the regulatory process has taken a long time, and if anybody says that this wasn’t a thorough and exhaustive regulatory process, then come and chat with us because it was quite thorough – it took three years, that’s how thorough it was. Because of that and while we were waiting for that process to be completed, the market has changed,” said Gill.
“From a shareholder perspective, they have a bit of time now that they can really evaluate this.”
The NCRD will now await the results of the TERMPOL assessment to identify potential gaps in transportation safety.
PNW LNG updates Port Edward council
There is an oversupply of LNG in the global market and Pacific NorthWest LNG won’t know if it’s moving forward with its project until its shareholders evaluate the market conditions and trends and make a decision.
Baker and Gill spoke to council on what they do know.
“We do expect LNG demand to continue to rise into the future,” Baker said. There is a prediction that there will be an undersupply by 2025 depending on how many projects go ahead.
In the previous council meeting, Coun. James Brown suggested Port Edward tries to join the independent environmental monitoring committee, one of the 190 conditions legally binding conditions laid out by the federal government in its approval of the project.
“We would recommend that if there’s interest from the district to contact CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) and let your interests be known,” Baker said, as this is out of the proponent’s control.
– With files from Shannon Lough