LNG looping project begins environmental assessment process

Pacific Northern Gas has started the steps toward applying for an EA certificate for their northern B.C. looping project.

Pacific Northern Gas has started the steps toward applying for an Environmental Assessment Certificate for their northern B.C. looping project.

An open house was held in Smithers last week and at Round Lake the week before to allow the public to learn more about the project and ask questions of the B.C. EAO and the proponent, PNG.

The project being proposed is the construction and operation of about 525 kms of new natural gas pipeline from Summit Lake, north of Prince George, to Kitimat to form a loop with PNG’s existing LNG pipeline.

The 24-inch pipeline will, for the most part, parallel the existing pipeline, the company said.

Three compressor stations will also need to be upgraded and a new one has to be built.

Before PNG can apply for the certificate, the Environmental Assessment Office of British Columbia first must approve the application’s information requirements. Part of this process includes a 38-day public comment period. The comments will be forwarded to the proponent for response and consideration, states the EAO website.

Bill Manery, PNG project manager for the approvals process, said this project is different than some other pipelines being proposed because natural gas is a public utility, regulated by the BC Utilities Commission. Because of that, any savings realized through the twinning project will be passed on to consumers.

“This is going to substantially improve the efficiency of PNG’s transmission system because we’re adding so much more transmission on our system right now that’s very under-utilized and it’s going to allow PNG to dramatically drop gas rates to our customers along the corridor,” Manery said.

Manery said they expect to submit their Environmental Assessment Certificate application in the fall of 2014 and hope to begin construction at the end of 2015 with completion set for late 2016.

Nadia Nowak, with the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research, attended the meeting and said her questions centred around jobs and the ability for the project to share a corridor with other pipeline projects.

“It is very challenging to keep track of all the pipeline proposals let alone try and participate in the various environmental assessment processes that are under way. I attended to try and understand how this new pipeline proposal fits in with the rest, and to consider what the impacts may be for our region,” she said.

“I have many concerns and questions about LNG development as a whole. I don’t think it can be isolated pipeline by pipeline and terminal by terminal. We must look at the bigger picture and address what the cumulative impacts of up to a dozen projects mean for our communities, air quality, coast and climate.”

The Smithers-based Northwest Institute for Bioregional Research has been working towards social and ecological sustainability in northwest B.C. since 1996.

The public comment period is open until Jan. 2, 2014.

To make a submission to the environmental assessment office, go to www.eao.gov.bc.ca. For more on PNG’s looping project, see www.png.ca/png-looping-project/.