Could Vancouver Island be the site of a future LNG export facility?

Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht First Nation provided an update on the $10 billion development

Representatives from Steelhead LNG and Huu-ay-aht First Nations were in Ucluelet last week to give residents an overview of the proposed Kwispaa LNG project.

The $10-billion development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Sarita Bay near Bamfield would be co-managed the two parties and has already received a positive vote from a Huu-ay-aht First Nation referendum in March 2017. Elected board members of the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) also passed a motion with a 13-1 vote to support the project in principal.

John Jack, who sits on Huu-ay-aht First Nation council, addressed the crowd at last week’s event to answer questions from the community.

“The reason we’re investing in LNG is we need the money. We need the money to build the schools and hospitals and daycare facilities and elder care facilities and all of these things,” he said.

“Before we even talk about economic development projects like tourism, like hospitality, we need some source of capital to do it so this is the tradeoff. This is what we are doing. We are using this amount of land to produce a facility that will generate income that we need and employment that we need in order to even create what we think should have been there had Huu-ay-aht always been self-governing.”

RELATED: Coast clashes over proposed LNG facility slated for Sarita Bay

Jack said the Huu-ay-aht First Nation wants to be involved at every stage of the project.

“We don’t just have a voice, we have a vote,” he said, and went on to describe that one key aspect of the co-management arrangement between the Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead is the existence of a project oversight board that includes three individuals from each party.

According to Kwispaa LNG project manager, Nathan Gloag, the National Energy Board has granted Steelhead LNG four licences to export in the aggregate of 24 million tonnes of LNG per year for 25 years from Sarita Bay.

The community of Bamfield has yet to grant the social licence to operate an LNG export facility in the Barkley Sound, however.

Approximately 20 locals gathered outside the community hall prior to the information session to voice their concerns.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Hjalmer Wenstob grew up in Barkley Sound. He is opposed to the project.

“You know, we’ve gone through so many protests and so many actions in the last few years. So many of the people from the grassroots are raising up to have a say. And we recognize it doesn’t always mean there’s change, but we have to stand up for what we believe in. I have a little girl and I want her to know the beauty of home and the beauty of Sarita.”

Keith Wyton sits on the ACRD board of directors for Bamfield or Electoral Area “A”. He was the lone director to vote against the motion to support the LNG project.

Wyton, who has lived in Bamfield for more than 35 years, stressed that the local planning guidelines support keeping Barkley Sound in a natural state and to limit the commercial development.

“People that live in Bamfield are not waiting for salvation from industrialization. The people that live in that community cherish it for what it is and we would like to continue that way of life without basically turning it over to large-scale industry,” he said.

“Sarita Bay itself is significant as a migratory bird area. There are fisheries values there. On a regional scale, it would totally change the character of the south side of Barkley Sound,” said Wyton.

At 12 million tonnes per year, citizens of Bamfield would probably see one LNG carrier coming into the terminal site every three or four days to load LNG over a 24-hour period, according to Gloag.

At the full buildout, they would probably see one LNG carrier calling into the terminal every other day.

Preliminary designs for the export facility at Sarita Bay involve a “cost competitive” floating structure that would be permanently moored to a marine jetty, according to Gloag.

“Liquid natural gas will remain in the hull of that facility waiting for transportation and offloading,” he said.

South Korean shipbuilding giant Hyundai Heavy Industries was awarded the $500-million contract to build the floating LNG storage units, according to a Jan.29, 2018 press release on LNG World News.

Once completed, [Sarita Bay] would be the world’s first coastal LNG production facility, according to Hyundai Heavy.


Hyundai Heavy Photo

Gloag went on to say that Steelhead is also looking at a power plant to service the project that would expand as the project expands.

RELATED: Potential route examined for pipeline feeding major new West Cost LNG Facility

Steelhead LNG and Huu-ay-aht are also in the process of consulting with First Nations and communities to discuss the potential construction of a pipeline that 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.

A portion of the development capital for the $10-billion Kwispaa LNG project is funded by two main investors out of Alberta.

— With files from Andrew Bailey and Karly Blats

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