Pending a final investment decision from PETRONAS and receipt of a construction permit from the B.C. Oil & Gas Commission, TransCanada Corporation’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project (PRGT) is moving ahead.
TransCanada announced Nov. 26 that it had received the crucial Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) for the natural gas pipeline project.
“This is a significant milestone for PRGT and together with the Environmental Assessment Certificate that was also recently awarded to our Coastal GasLink project, it demonstrates TransCanada’s commitment to building the province’s liquefied natural gas export industry in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO. “PRGT is an important part of TransCanada’s unprecedented $46 billion capital growth plan, which includes more than $12 billion in proposed natural gas pipeline projects to support B.C.’s emerging LNG export industry. TransCanada’s LNG-related pipeline projects are underpinned by long-term contracts with established international energy companies.”
PRGT will safely deliver natural gas 900 km from a point near Hudson’s Hope to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG facility within the District of Port Edward. At this specialized facility, the natural gas will be converted into liquefied natural gas (LNG) before being transported to global markets.
“The environmental assessment process was rigorous and involved thousands of hours of fieldwork analysis, technical studies and consultation to ensure our environmental footprint in northern B.C. will be as small as possible,” said Dean Patry, president, PRGT. “We submitted more than 8,500 pages of environmental, economic, cultural, social and heritage documentation to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, and participated in working group meetings, open houses, one-on-one and local government meetings, and addressed thousands of written questions submitted by those with an interest in our proposed routing. The EAC award is a validation of that hard work by our team.”
The EAC contains 45 conditions, many of which reflect current best practices for natural gas pipeline construction and operation. They also include conditions adopted to address project-specific concerns, as raised by the Nisga’a Nation, Aboriginal groups, local communities and resource management agencies. These include:
- Develop mitigation and monitoring plans regarding marine access and traffic management, fisheries interaction, marine mammals, crab movement, marine sediment and freshwater quality.
- Develop a Greenhouse Gas Management Plan that includes adherence to the Ministry of Natural Gas Development’s guidance on Best Available Techniques Economically Achievable, regulatory requirements to report on greenhouse gas emissions and site-specific mitigations.
- Mitigate effects on caribou and grizzly bears by avoiding sensitive habitat wherever possible, avoiding increased impacts from predators and providing up to $2 million to fund caribou and predator monitoring work, and $750,000 to support conservation and management of regional grizzly bear populations.
- Develop a Socio-Economic Effects Management Plan, committing to continued engagement with local governments to minimize effects on community infrastructure and services.
- Continued engagement with the Nisga’a Nation and Aboriginal groups including opportunities to participate in monitoring programs during project construction.
While much of the pipeline route has been determined, there are specific areas in which PRGT is addressing local and Aboriginal concerns that may affect the final pipeline routing.
The initial capacity of the PRGT pipeline will allow the shipment of approximately two billion cubic feet/day (bcf/d) of natural gas with the assistance of three compressor stations. The pipeline capacity could be expanded in the future to handle 3.6 bcf/d through the addition of up to five compressor stations.
“Construction of the pipeline will take about four years, provide thousands of high-paying jobs for local, skilled workers to support their families, and provide revenue to Aboriginal and local businesses,” said Patry.
“Once it’s operating, the project will generate an estimated $20 million each year in property taxes. This money will go to the provincial government for distribution to municipalities, and will help support schools and hospitals, emergency services, recreation and a variety of other programs that create strong communities along the pipeline route.”
TransCanada has also submitted applications to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission for the permits required under Section 25 of the Oil and Gas Activities Act to build and operate the PRGT pipeline. Regulatory review of those applications is progressing.