Citing “unnamed sources” quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the Alaska Highway News reports that Malaysia’s state gas company Petronas has indefinitely shelved its controversial Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal near Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
If the report is confirmed, the Malaysian energy giant will be reducing its financial risk in an already-glutted global natural gas market. According to the Journal’s sources “familiar with the matter,” those market conditions rendered the $US36-billion project “unattractive at the moment.” Petronas is believed to have spent about a third of that money to date.
The project, which has been bitterly opposed by scientists and communities for the risks it poses to coastal B.C. ecosystems, has been approved by the B.C. government, but a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency review is not expected to conclude until next month. In March, Petronas threatened to abandon the project entirely unless the federal government approved it by the end of that month.
While the delay may help Petronas, which saw its profit drop a stomach-churning 60% in the first quarter, it will further complicate B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s political calculus. The first-term premier won election in 2013 on the promise that LNG exports were about to flood the province with wealth. Petronas’ postponement follows others, but this is the most advanced project yet to be put on hold. Clark faces re-election next spring.