Site preparation work is underway at Woodfibre, a former pulp mill near Squamish that investors want to use to export liquefied natural gas to Asia. (Woodfibre LNG)

Woodfibre LNG gets 40-year export licence

Squamish project highlights BC Greens’ opposition

What could be B.C.’s first liquefied natural gas export project has received its federal export licence, a step towards what global investors have considered a major industry for B.C.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced the 40-year licence Monday for Woodfibre LNG. It is the 24th federal LNG export licence issued by Ottawa, and it represents another division between the B.C. NDP and B.C. Green Party as they move toward an alliance to take over the B.C. government.

NDP leader John Horgan has spoken in favour of Woodfibre, a former pulp mill site that is being cleaned up by investors to prepare for a small-scale export terminal using an existing pipeline route. Green leader Andrew Weaver is adamantly opposed to it.

“This is the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” Weaver said of Woodfibre last year. “It will hurt our climate leadership. It lacks a strong economic case, and it has received no social licence for what is being pushed forward.”

When project financing was announced in November 2016, Horgan said “B.C.’s New Democrats are supportive of Woodfibre LNG and the jobs and economic activity it will bring to our province.”

Weaver said Woodfibre received its federal environmental approval under federal rules set by the former Conservative government in Ottawa, using the B.C. environmental assessment that he did not consider adequate.

Carr, speaking during a visit to the Canadian embassy in China Monday, was bullish on the prospects for LNG from the B.C. coast, despite soft international prices as many new sources are developed around the world with advanced hydraulic fracturing.

“We know there is tremendous demand for natural gas, especially in the fast-growing countries of Asia,” Carr said. “The approval of Woodfibre LNG’s 40-year export licence provides certainty for investors while creating jobs for Canadians as the world moves toward a low-carbon future.”