British Columbia grants enviro certificate to Woodfibre LNG project

British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman said Oct. 26 that they have issued an environmental assessment certificate to Woodfibre LNG Ltd. for the Woodfibre LNG export project, which is located in the District of Squamish.

The decision was made after considering a review led by British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office. The ministers have issued the certificate with legally enforceable conditions that have given them the confidence to conclude that the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur.

Woodfibre LNG is the second project to be granted a certificate following a substituted environmental assessment. Substitution means that the Environmental Assessment Office conducts a single process that meets all federal and provincial requirements. The federal minister and provincial ministers make separate decisions on whether to approve the project based on the environmental assessment report prepared by the Environmental Assessment Office. A federal environmental assessment decision has not yet been announced.

There are 25 conditions that are part of the environmental assessment certificate. The certificate conditions were developed following consultation and input from Aboriginal groups, government agencies, communities and the public. Key conditions for the project require Woodfibre LNG to:

  • mitigate and monitor impacts to marine mammals during construction;
  • manage and monitor marine water quality to protect marine life and human health;
  • manage and monitor marine fish and fish habitat during construction and operations; ‡and
  • develop a traffic management plan to minimize disruptions during construction.

The C$1.4-billion-to-C$1.8-billion Woodfibre LNG project includes a facility with liquefied natural gas storage, a marine terminal and LNG shipping by carriers. The project would produce 2.415 million tonnes of LNG per year. The company estimates that the project will support up to 1,975 person years of employment during construction and approximately 100 full-time equivalent positions during operations.

The LNG facility includes: the land-based natural gas processing and liquefaction facility; the floating storage and offloading unit; and supporting infrastructure. The components related to LNG processing are:

  • Control system;
  • Natural gas inlet facility and piping;
  • Natural gas pre-treatment facilities;
  • Up to two natural gas liquefaction trains (also called processing units), comprised of gas treatment and liquefaction facilities;
  • a condensate storage container;
  • flare system with a maximum flare stack height of 140 meters; and
  • fire control and safety infrastructure.

The LNG facility would be powered by electricity supplied by BC Hydro and would require upgrades to the existing BC Hydro transmission system, which are not included within the scope of this environmental review.

A floating storage and offloading unit (FSO) would serve as both the LNG storage and a berthing and mooring facility for LNG carriers. The FSO would be permanently moored to the FSO jetty. Shipping activities would include up to 40 LNG carrier visits per year. The marine access route to the Woodfibre site would follow established shipping routes within Howe Sound, which has access to the Pacific Ocean.

The LNG project would be supplied with natural gas from the proposed Eagle Mountain–Woodfibre Gas Pipeline Project, owned and operated by FortisBC Energy Vancouver Island Inc. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.