The BC Environmental Assessment Office has approved a plan by Enbridge (TSX,NYSE:ENB) to shave 138 kilometres off of its proposed Westcoast Connector natural gas pipeline, which may be resurrected as part of the Ksi Lisims LNG project.
The reason for eliminating the easternmost 138 kilometres? It runs through Blueberry River First Nation territory, and in 2021, the First Nation won a treaty infringement case based on cumulative impacts of industry on their treaty rights.
Since that court decision, industry and government has had to tread much more lightly in Blueberry River First Nation territory.
Evidently, Enbridge feels the section of pipeline running through Blueberry River First Nation is not essential to the Westcoast Connector project, which would run from near Chetwynd to Prince Rupert.
“WCGT Ltd. found that removing the first 138 km of pipeline from the project as certified will reduce potential cumulative effects on Treaty 8 Territory, including those within BRFN Territory,” Enbridge says in its submission to the EAO asking for an amendment to its environmental certificate.
Dotted line indicates the 138 kilometre section to be eliminated.
The Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission project dates back a decade. The project was originally owned by Spectra Energy, and was to supply natural gas for an LNG project that was abandoned: the WCC LNG project. It was approved in 2014. Enbridge acquired the pipeline project in 2017 when it merged with Spectra.
The clock has been running out on the project, as the environmental certificate states that there must be a substantial start by November 25, 2024.
Earlier this year, Enbridge applied for an extension, but then withdrew it and filed its application for a certificate amendment instead. That means the November 25, 2024 deadline still stands.
The fact Enbridge did not apply for an extension suggests the company thinks it may start work on the project soon.
The Westcoast Connector is one of two approved pipelines that Ksi Lisims says it might use to bring natural gas to Prince Rupert. The other is the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project owned by TC Energy (TSX,NYSE:TRP).