A potential rough corridor has been mapped out for a proposed pipeline that will transport natural gas across the Island to Sarita Bay near Bamfield.
But a specific route has yet to be identified.
A new route is needed after the original plan to have the Kwispaa pipeline travel across the Island from a facility based in Bamberton on the Saanich Inlet was shelved late last year.
The $30 billion development of the liquefied natural gas facility at Sarita Bay is co-managed by the area’s Huu-ay-aht First Nation and B.C.-based Steelhead LNG. Plans call for the facility to be developed at-shore, moored to jetties in the water. It will export about 24 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year, which will be largely transported overseas to countries such as China and India, to offset coal production.
Trevor Boudreau, director of communications and government affairs with Steelhead LNG, said plans for the corridor are still in the early stages of development.
He said the corridor would travel from the Chetwynd area to the Williams Lake area, southwest to Powell River, across the Strait of Georgia and then overland before terminating at the Kwispaa LNG site, located at the southern edge of Barkley Sound, about 40 kilometres southwest of Port Alberni.
“Our idea is [the pipeline] would largely use existing rights of way as much as possible like rail lines and that sort of stuff,” Boudreau said.
He said from Powell River there’s a Fortis BC natural gas line that runs underneath the Strait of Georgia that’s been in place since about 1990.
“And then it would go across (to) the Island and land around Courtenay/Comox and then go across to the Kwispaa site,” Boudreau said. “A specific route has not been identified at this stage. We believe there is an opportunity to create a new and better path for industry and First Nations to work together on natural gas pipeline projects.”
Boudreau said the decision not to proceed with the proposed Malahat LNG project was a strategic decision based on the strong interest from LNG customers.
“That gave us the confidence to develop at least 12 mtpa (metric tonnes per annum) for our first development,” Boudreau said.
That capacity (12 mtpa) is greater than what could have been provided from the Bamberton location.
He added that the Bamberton proposal was a little different in that it would have been a longer undersea area and it would have gone through the U.S. whereas the current proposal will only stay in B.C.
“We’re going to be sourcing our gas from Canadian producers in Northeastern B.C. and Northwestern Alberta,” Boudreau said.
Steelhead expects the pipeline to be provincially regulated.
“It would be subject to provincial reviews through the BC Environmental Assessment Office and regulated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission,” Boudreau said.
He added that the pipeline would most likely have to be in place about three months ahead of the facility start and that Steelhead expects to make final investment decisions on the pipeline project and the Kwispaa LNG facility in the first half of 2020.
Moving forward, Steelhead plans to have consultations with First Nations and communities to discuss the potential of having a pipeline run though their traditional territories.
“Our commitment is to share information with the public and stakeholders and gather feedback throughout the project development so that we can listen to concerns and incorporate input as much as possible,” Boudreau said.