Pre-construction clearing for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project is expected to start before the leaves start falling this autumn. The LNG pipeline route travels just north of the Hazeltons on its way from northeast B.C. to Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
Project president Dean Patry told the crowd gathered at the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Thursday that prime contractors for the TransCanada pipeline will likely be hired in the second quarter of this year. Community outreach for local subcontractors and employees for the pre-construction is set for the third quarter.
Assuming Patry’s hope that permits from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission are given soon, construction camps would be built about every 100 kilometres along the 900-kilometre route. He said part of the deal with contractors includes having a detailed plan to hire locally for the labour, pipefitting, operating engineer, driving, and administrative jobs that will need to be filled.
Challenges to the project include First Nation and environmental opposition, and waiting for an investment decision from PETRONAS, the Malaysian-based energy company that would export the liquified natural gas once construction of the pipeline was completed. Construction would take three to five years and is set to begin in 2016.
Patry said he is “cautiously optimistic” that PETRONAS will make its final investment decision soon. Lowering costs and addressing the problems getting federal environmental approval for the terminal at Lelu Island are what makes Patry optimistic.
“They’ve gone from a jetty design and a marine terminal very close to the island to a concept that has a suspension bridge that basically leapfrogs most of the infrastructure completely away from and over top of the flow bank. It takes the marine terminal more than two kilometres from off the island to eliminate what would have been one of the largest dredges in North American history,” Patry told the business crowd.
Madii Lii blockade
The financial and permit hurdles likely are not the tallest for the project. Patry opened his remarks to the Chamber with an acknowledgement of his being on Wet’suwet’en territory in Smithers. TransCanada’s other pipeline, Coastal GasLink, is routed to travel in the southern portion of that territory.
The Prince Rupert project route goes through Gitxsan territory. TransCanada is negotiating with the Gitxsan Development Corporation.
A camp set up by some Gitxsan hereditary chiefs, Wilp Luutkudziiwus members, and environmentalist supporters sits on the route north of Hazelton.
Madii Lii camp spokesperson Richard Wright said TransCanada reached out to speak with camp representatives, but the company refused the conditions that the meeting be at the camp and open to all House (Wilp) members.
“They will not be granted access to our land; and the provincial government and the… First Nation entities, they all got caught with their hand in the cookie jars on this one because the provincial government has been informed that they do need to consult with us,” said Wright, adding they are willing to go to court.
“We’re going to stand our ground.”