Indigenous-led LNG Project in BC Gets Approved

Aaron Foyer
Indigenous leader at LNG project approval
Courtesy of Infotel

Off the British Columbian coast, it’s often humpback whales that dominate the pristine coastline. But this week, it’s a major energy project making waves.

What happened: Both the provincial government of British Columbia and the federal government of Canada approved the Cedar LNG project, an Indigenous-majority-owned liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.

The project will be located in Kitimat, British Columbia, near the LNG Canada project currently under construction. It’ll be connected to the controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline and powered by BC Hydro electricity. Unlike LNG Canada, the Cedar LNG project will be a floating facility that liquefies natural gas offshore.

  • With the Coastal GasLink pipeline nearing completion and the offshore platform usually built by experienced international shipyards, there are fewer opportunities for cost overruns.

Why it’s important: Ownership is split roughly 50-50 between Pembina Pipeline and the Haisla First Nation, with the Haisla Nation having controlling ownership and hosting the project on its treaty lands.

  • The announcement comes just months after another Indigenous-industry partnership between Enbridge and 23 First Nation and Métis communities and shows the growing trend of reconciliation with the natural resource industry.

Cedar LNG will be the largest Indigenous-majority-owned infrastructure project in Canada with a $2.4 billion price tag.

Cedar LNG project location in Kitimat, British Columbia

map of Cedar LNG
Created by Cedar LNG

Strings attached: The announcement was first made by British Columbia’s New Democratic Party premier David Eby, who has been the leader of the party for just a few months. Just like when we went to the ocean with our parents, there are strings attached with this floating device.

  • The project must be net-zero emissions by 2050 with a credible plan to get there by 2030, and several other health, safety, and environmental management conditions that are legally enforceable.

Many in the province hoped no future LNG projects would go forward to avoid increasing provincial emissions, though supporters point out natural gas can displace coal consumption in Asia.

  • In 2017, Malaysian-owned Petronas saw its own LNG project in BC cancelled, resulting in increased coal use by the Southeast Asian the country.

Zoom out: Outlined by the provincial and federal governments is potentially a path forward for net-zero-emission LNG projects off the BC coast.

Both seemed to have turned a corner in their support of these projects, particularly ones that benefit Indigenous communities.