Residents of the North Coast received their first look at plans for a liquefied natural gas export terminal on Tuck Inlet last week at an open house hosted by WCC LNG.
The company, a partnership between ExxonMobil and Imperial Oil, entered into an agreement with the City of Prince Rupert to potentially develop a terminal at Lot 444 and on Thursday night WCC LNG brought their plans out for feedback from the public.
The company has already received approval for an export licence for anywhere between 10 million and 30 million tonnes of LNG per year and is proposing up to six floating barges along the edge of Tuck Inlet. As well as the barges, plans call for land-based camps, administration building and control room structures directly across from the Seal Cove seaplane base.
In terms of possible impact to the Prince Rupert water supply at Shawatlan Lake, Imperial Oil media relations advisor Leanne Dohy said that will not be an issue.
“The facility would be located approximately four kilometres from the watershed … so there is a great separation between us and the watershed,” she said, noting the topography of the area also increases separation.
The current timeline for the project calls for the project description to be filed later this year, with a final investment decision coming in early 2018. Should the project proceed, construction would run from 2018 to 2023, with operations beginning nine years from now.
At full build out, the terminal would serve one vessel per day. And while she said there were no concerns raised by the Prince Rupert Port Authority about LNG tankers accessing the harbour, Dohy said more discussions need to take place about what the increased tanker movement could mean to marine vessels.
“If we ask the right questions now, we can prevent issues in the future,” said Dohy.
“If we know commercial fishers use the harbour this way and the seaplanes use it this way, then we can incorporate that into the design.”
But it is not just access from the water that is being considered. Currently the land access to the lot is from a small road that provides a means of getting to the water supply. Dohy said creating direct access to Prince Rupert is something that the company may consider as the project develops.
“We will be undertaking a logistics study trying to figure out the best way to access the site not only during construction but for the more long-term operational requirements,” she said.
And while the announcement of the Tuck Inlet site may be something new, the project itself has been on the drawing board for a long time. WCC LNG has been looking at sites up and down the North Coast since 2011, choosing Tuck Inlet because of the safe, protected harbour, the deep-water berthing capacity, the proximity to infrastructure and the viability of the site for both a barge-mounted or on-shore concept.
In searching out sites, the company has also been speaking with area First Nations since 2011.
“When we first came to Prince Rupert, some of the first people we talked to were the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla First Nations … the consistent theme is people are open to talk but have criteria they want met, as would anyone,” said Scott Pinley of Imperial Oil, noting First Nations involvement has gone beyond simple discussion.
“We have also engaged their business entities in much of the tied work we have done.”
While there was a lot of information available, Dohy acknowledged the plans for the terminal are very much in the preliminary stages.
“There is going to be a lot of engagement to come,” she said.
“We want to hear from people … and we want tons of input,” said Dohy, noting WCC LNG is planning to open an office in Prince Rupert shortly.
“We don’t want people to wait for open houses, we want people to talk to us if they have comments, questions or concerns.”