Canada’s new government has lowered the boom on resource extraction approvals that don’t meet federal expectations for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. So who wants to be the next batter up in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export sweepstakes – the first to test Ottawa’s resolve on meeting one of the Trudeau government’s primary election pledges?
It may come as a surprise to learn that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has already approved a west coast LNG export project as one of her first executive decisions, notably doing so one week before subjecting another LNG export project to further intense regulatory scrutiny.
Woodfibre LNG, owned by Pacific Oil & Gas and sited at Squamish, British Columbia, is the approved project. It then immediately awarded a major engineering contract, thus setting itself ahead of the pack as competing projects tumbled back to the regulatory blender to face the attendant uncertainty and delay.
So how did this project gain such a competitive advantage?
Here’s the answer by Woodfibre’s VP of corporate affairs, Byng Giraud, laid out for the public at a Vancouver conference in late 2015. It is one of the most strategic commentaries ever from corporate Canada and no doubt influenced the federal approval:
“We needed a breakthrough because the Squamish First Nation was not onside with the proposed environmental assessment process. So we engaged them in their own environmental process. We had to respect the outcome – it took a couple of years of tough slogging and ended with the imposition of 25 conditions. The process was unique in that there was no outward or upstairs reporting. These conditions were written up in our Squamish Nation Environmental Agreement and when that was signed we gained our Squamish Nation Environmental Certificate – meaning that we are bound by these instruments and can’t walk away without repercussions.
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