A big step was taken last week by the proponents of a liquefied natural gas facility proposal for the Woodfibre site across Howe Sound from Squamish.
Woodfibre Natural Gas Limited (WNGL) applied for an export application with the National Energy Board. The company wants to process and export about 2.1 million tonnes of liquefied fuel a year from the former pulp mill site owned by Western Forest Products. The forestry company has a conditional sale agreement with the energy company. The deal is still subject to the completion of further provincially required clean up.
Byng Giraud, WNGL's vice president of corporate affairs, said while the energy board reviews the application, baseline studies are ongoing as his company works to understand details of the site it plans to buy. He added that there isn't a deadline associated with the energy board's decision on his company's export application.
"Typically, these things take four to six months," said Giraud. "There isn't a set time."
Early stage engineering is taking place as Ottawa considers the application.
"That allows us to determine what type of technology, what type of facility we would build so we don't know what that facility will look like, how it will operate yet because that's all part of that engineering discussion influenced by the baseline stuff that the environmental consultants we've retained have to do on local wildlife, the fish and those sorts of things," said Giraud.
The company Giraud works for is a Canadian company tied to the Pacific Oil and Gas Group based in Singapore.
The WNGL application to export natural gas is the seventh such recent application submitted to the energy board. Three of the seven have been approved and four are currently under review.
Premier Christy Clark has been pushing to develop LNG facilities on the B.C. coast.
"Seeing another LNG export licence filed with the federal government shows two things," said Premier Clark in a news release. "It further indicates that our LNG has huge promise to deliver the jobs and prosperity that B.C. so richly deserves, but also that it's right around the corner. If they want to be part of this opportunity, it's urgent that companies are in the game now."
Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development, also shared thoughts on the WNGL application to the energy board.
"We're confident an LNG industry will create thousands of jobs and provide lasting legacies that will deliver a wide range of benefits," he said in a provincial news release.
The property WNGL is trying to purchase is within District of Squamish boundaries and when the pulp mill on the site shut down Squamish suffered a significant drop in property tax income. Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham said the district hasn't taken a stance on the proposal while waiting to learn more about the potential impacts of the operation on Squamish.
The Future of Howe Sound Society opposes the LNG proposal. Jeff Gau with the society said any heavy industry proposal on Howe Sound goes against their vision for the future.