A new liquified natural gas (LNG) project advertised as the “lowest-emission LNG export facility in the world” is set to proceed in British Columbia, but environmental groups say the facility will increase fracking in the northeastern part of the province, with adverse effects on water, climate, wildlife, and human health.
Woodfibre LNG’s hydroelectric-powered facility will be built near Squamish, Band will be among the first to use electric drive to run its compressors rather than standard gas turbines that operate by burning a portion of the supply piped into the plant. The design shift is expected to lower emissions intensity in the actual plant to 0.054 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of LNG (tCO2e/t), compared to a global average of 0.26 to 0.35 tCO2e/t, says Mining.com.
Woodfibre has also boasted of the potential to lower global emissions by displacing more polluting energy sources, like coal, currently being consumed abroad—despite the much longer story behind that kind of claim.
“When shipped to Asia where it will replace coal-fired electricity, the LNG produced at the Woodfibre facility will reduce 3.5 million tonnes of CO2e per year, equivalent to 5% of B.C.’s annual emissions,” the company said in a statement.
But My Sea To Sky alleges that Woodfibre LNG’s past practices show it cannot be trusted, adding that building new fossil infrastructure runs counter to climate targets.
“Woodfibre LNG will increase fracking, lock in climate pollution, put residents at risk, and threaten the recovery of Howe Sound, ” the group states, adding that the facility cannot survive without C$50 million a year in government subsidies and tax breaks. “That’s $500,000 per job per year. That’s ridiculous.”
In a statement, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston said Woodfibre’s decision to proceed with the project shows that industry sees B.C. as a strong place to invest. He said the government will “work with companies who are committed to the CleanBC goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Woodfibre LNG—a subsidiary of Singapore-based Pacific Energy—plans to use floating storage tanks and will likely want to expand an existing natural gas pipeline to the site, reports Parksville Qualicum Beach News. The pipeline was approved by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) earlier this month. According to Natural Gas Intel, the terminal is expected to open in 2027 and export 2.1 million tonnes per year of Montney shale gas over the following 40 years.