Aurora LNG puts its environmental review process on hold

The Aurora LNG project proposed near the Prince Rupert airport has put its environmental assessment process on hold.

Aurora LNG has requested to suspend the province's 180-day environmental review process to examine and respond to feedback  after the public comment period.

Aurora LNG has requested to suspend the province's 180-day environmental review process to examine and respond to feedback after the public comment period.

On Day 70 of the 180-day environmental review of the Aurora LNG project on Digby Island, Aurora LNG requested to press pause on the process.

Aurora LNG, a joint venture between Nexen Energy, a division of Chinese energy giant China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Japan’s INPEX Corporation, has asked the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) to put the process on hold following a public commenting period.

“Aurora LNG requests a suspension of the 180 day review period in order to provide additional time to adequately examine, respond and discuss these issues with the appropriate stakeholders and Aboriginal groups,” Darcy Janko, the senior manager of regulatory affairs wrote on March 20.

Key issues include air quality, wetland and fish habitat offsets, disposal at sea, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, flare design and aviation, waste water discharge and Dodge Cove water supply.

Although the City of Prince Rupert has representation in the Aurora LNG working group, and despite the fact that the proposed Aurora LNG facility would not be on city-controlled land, Mayor Lee Brain submitted a four-page letter with a laundry list of remarks and suggestions on March 7.

“The City of Prince Rupert is generally supportive of LNG development in the region,” the letter begins. But support from the city hinges on if the proponent meets the federal and provincial environmental standards — and if the proponent adequately addresses the project’s socio-economic impacts.

Brain raised concerns over the proponent’s methodology on emissions predictions. Beyond environmental considerations, the mayor points out “the significant infrastructure costs, which will be borne by the city in the event of project approval.”

He lists increased policing costs due to population increases and road repair costs due to an increase in traffic. Although the project is outside Prince Rupert’s municipal boundaries “the proponent needs to further describe the mechanisms by which these revenues would be transferred to local municipalities” to pay for infrastructure costs.

The lack of affordable housing, or lack of housing during the construction of the project, is another issue the mayor includes in his letter. The city would need 300 affordable housing units, and the proponent’s mitigation measures to build work camps won’t suffice.

A similar letter from the mayor, on behalf of city council, was submitted during the comment period last year for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project on Lelu Island.  The focus was on the socio-economic impacts of the project based near Port Edward.

“A city-commissioned 2014 report by KPMG suggests that the total cost to accommodate LNG development on the city’s infrastructure alone is estimated to be $14.5-million a year, and will require a one time injection of $60.6-million,” Brain wrote to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Although, the federal government approved the Pacific NorthWest LNG last fall, Petronas, the proponent, has yet to announce a final investment decision.

As for the Aurora LNG project, the Environmental Assessment Office of B.C. began the review process in Jan. 2017, which was set to commence on July 10. But Nexen Energy has suggested to resume the 180 day review period on May 15.

In the letter addressed to Sean Moore, the project assessment manger for B.C. EAO, Janko of Aurora LNG also requests an additional working group to meet and inform the entire working group on key issues, progress and resolution.



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