Last week, Coastal GasLink introduced the subcontractor that will be doing the construction on sections 6 and 7 of the company’s 670 km pipeline to local business leaders at the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon.
Pacific Atlantic Pipeline Construction (PAPC) is a Canadian subsidiary of Bonatti Group, an oil and gas general contractor based in Italy. The company will be building the two sections of the pipeline that run approximately 165 kilometres from south of Burns Lake to south of Hazelton.
“We’re excited about our industry,” said Dave Hermanson, a PAPC pipeline estimator and planner from Calgary. “We do everything right in Canada, we don’t cut corners, we do things right and we’re very proud of our pipeline industry in spite of the opposition sometimes we get.”
Hermanson said during construction, the company will employ between 700 and 1,000 people based out of two camps, one around 20 km south of Burns Lake and the second, the Huckleberry camp near Houston.
The pipeline project itself has garnered international attention due to protests by the Unist’ot’en (Dark House) of the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters.
Scott Allen, who is responsible for community and Indigenous engagement for Coastal GasLink on the western part of the project, addressed that issue during his presentation on the overall project.
“I’m not going to dance around that,” he said. “On January 1st things picked up in a big way on construction, it was very prominent in the news, especially in this community, of course, was issues around the Morice River bridge.
“They’re not events we wanted to come to pass. We’ve continued to be very open in our dialogue with hereditary chiefs in that area, who don’t support the project, we’re aware of that, but we feel that we have good support broadly. We’re never going to get a 100 per cent, we respect that.”
He did point out, however, that CGL has legal agreements with all of the 20 elected chiefs and councils along the pipeline’s route.
Of course, the audience at the chamber luncheon at Pioneer Place May 16 was a friendly one and Allen had an invitation for the business people gathered there.
“I think there’s about 60 categories of things that typically a pipeline project needs by way of subcontracts,” he said. “Some of them are specialized to the pipeline industry… but there are some more general services that you would find here locally without question, especially some of the construction services.”
Allen encouraged Smithers and area businesses to register with Coastal GasLink’s vendor directory.
“We’re using that directory to inform how we’re distributing opportunities,” he said.
PAPC is also required to use local subcontractors as part of the bidding process.
“Our prime contractors have what we call Indigenous and local participation plans,” Allen said.
Hermanson also spoke about the economic impact in the area.
“We’re already seeing it,” he said. “I couldn’t get a flight in here, I had to fly into Terrace and then I had to rent a car and fly out of Prince George and drop the car there, just because I couldn’t get in here.”
Hermanson listed everything from accommodations to rental vehicles and equipment to wood products, as well as a litany of sundry items from food to first aid kits to work gloves as opportunities for local business.
“It’s a huge thing and this is a lot of what the $400 million that Scott referred to is going to be taken up with, local and local Indigenous [contracts],” he said.
Allen also gave an update on the other conflict the company is currently facing, a challenge by Smithers resident Michael Sawyer to the National Energy Board (NEB) on constitutional grounds that B.C. did not have jurisdiction to approve the project. The NEB heard oral arguments May 2 and 3 in Calgary.
“Candidly, now we wait, we wait for the NEB to make their decision,” he said. “We are confident we have the facts on our side.”