Island bid for LNG plant moves ahead

Gas line right-of-way and treaty settlement advantages may close gap between northeast B.C. gas and Port Alberni

Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko (left) signs preliminary agreement for LNG project with Huu-ay-aht hereditary chief Derek Peters and chief councillor Jeff Cook.

Port Alberni is a long way from B.C.’s northeast gas fields, but access to the Pacific Ocean and a partnership with a local aboriginal community have investors moving ahead with plans for a liquefied natural gas export terminal.

Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG Corp. announced Tuesday the company has applied to the National Energy Board for an export licence to ship up to 30 million tonnes of LNG a year for 25 years.

Steelhead has signed an agreement with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations to explore development of  Huu-ay-aht land at the south end of Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island. Huu-ay-aht also has an agreement with the Port Alberni Port Authority, which is proposing a container transshipment hub for the area as well as the LNG proposal.

Premier Christy Clark promoted the Alberni Inlet LNG concept at last fall’s Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Summit, saying a Korean company was interested in it.

The port authority has examined the possibility of twinning an existing FortisBC natural gas pipeline that supplies Vancouver Island customers from the Lower Mainland.

“While the site is a significant distance from upstream gas production, it does offer numerous advantages, including direct access to the Pacific Ocean,” said Nigel Kuzemko, CEO of Steelhead LNG.

Another advantage is the self-government status of Huu-ay-at, one of five communities who form part of the Maa-Nulth First Nations treaty implemented in 2011.

Other LNG export proposals on B.C.’s north coast are affected by uncertainty from aboriginal title claims, including overlapping claims affecting projects in the Kitimat and Prince Rupert area.

Hereditary chiefs of the Gitxsan First Nation dispute the treaty agreement in principle signed in 2013 with the Tsimshian communities of Kitselas and Kitsumkalum. On June 22 the Gitxsan chiefs suspended discussions for three proposed pipelines crossing their traditional territory.

Gitxsan negotiator Bev Clifton Percival cited the June 26 Supreme Court of Canada decision recognizing Tsilhqot’in Nation aboriginal title to territory west of Williams Lake.


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