On November 25, 2014, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office (the BC EAO) approved the Pacific Northwest LNG Export Terminal (the Terminal), one of the twelve major BC LNG projects announced to date. The proponent of the Terminal is Pacific Northwest LNG Ltd. (Pacific Northwest), which is owned primarily by Malaysia’s PETRONAS. However, other minority shareholders such as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Japex and Indian Oil Corporation are also backing the development of the Terminal. 

In approving the Terminal, the BC EAO also approved two pipelines: (i) the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline (the Prince Rupert Pipeline), which is being developed by TransCanada Corp.,  and (ii) the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline, proposed by Spectra Energy Corp. The Prince Rupert Pipeline will transport gas produced by PETRONAS’ subsidiary, Progress Energy Canada Ltd., in northeast B.C. to the Terminal on Lelu Island.

Last year, the BC EAO and its federal counterpart, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the CEAA) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that allowed the BC EAO assessment process to replace the same assessment process normally conducted by the CEAA. Applicants are now required to make only one application for an environmental assessment, rather than having to obtain two separate, but substantially similar, approvals. We discussed the mechanics of the MOU in a prior blog  post.

Despite the MOU, Pacific Northwest opted to apply concurrently to the BC EAO and the CEAA for the Terminal’s approval. Therefore, although the Terminal has now received approval by BC, it still requires federal approval. The latest update in the CEAA approval process of the Terminal was on October 8, 2014, noting that Pacific NorthWest had submitted a project design update in response to requests for additional information by the CEAA.