A proposed floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal could turn British Columbia’s environmentally sensitive Saanich Inlet into a “marine desert”, while producing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 400,000 cars per year, according to a physical chemist and retired KPMG partner who founded advocacy group My Sea to Sky.
Last October, the National Energy Board approved Steelhead LNG Corporation’s proposal to export 30 million tonnes of LNG per year from a floating plant anchored near Malahat First Nation territory at Bamberton. The pipeline would be fed “by gas pipelines criss-crossing the Salish Sea and then snaking across Vancouver Island to Sarita Bay near Bamfield, where the company wants to build a larger LNG plant on Huu-ay-aht First Nation land,” DeSmog reports.
While new LNG facilities are less likely to proceed while gas prices are low, “it is best not to let your guard down and say the economy is not good right now,” said My Sea to Sky’s Eoin Finn. “The NEB seems to hand out export permits like confetti at a wedding.”
The project, the world’s first floating LNG terminal, would draw “massive ships, about the length of three football fields, that would pick up LNG,” DeSmog notes. The ships would use large volumes of seawater to cool the frozen gas, and by drawing in phytoplankton and small fish, create what Finn calls “the biggest bouillabaisse engine of all time.” A biocide added to the ships’ discharge water would mean “50,000 tonnes of hypochlorited hot water poured into the Inlet every year, making it into a marine desert.”
Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko said the company wanted to avoid any negative impacts on the Inlet, but acknowledged that a chemical would be used to prevent bacteria growing on the LNG ships’ piping. “We are looking at different ones, but they will all be biodegradable so they don’t have any long-term impact,” he said. Kuzemko added that seawater would be a more efficient coolant for the LNG tanks than air, resulting in less carbon pollution.
“What we are trying to do is something that we think is great for the world,” he told DeSmog. “There’s no reason industry and Saanich Inlet can’t co-exist.”