Canadian regulators extended by three months Petroliam Nasional Bhd.â€™s application to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the nationâ€™s Pacific coast so the Malaysian company can provide more information about the projectâ€™s environmental impacts.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced the extension in a filing after Pacific NorthWest LNG, as the project is known, detailed changes to its construction methods and schedule. Regulators need more information to review and analyze the project, the agency said.
â€œPacific NorthWest LNG will work to assess this latest information request and continue to work constructively with federal agencies through this rigorous process,â€ said Michael Culbert, president of Pacific NorthWest LNG, in an e-mail. Culbert said the extension came 750 days after the projectâ€™s original submission and four days before the deadline for a ministerial decision on the environmental impacts.
The project has been held up by opposition from an aboriginal group near the site of its proposed shipping terminal on Lelu Island in northern British Columbia, not far from the border with the U.S. state of Alaska.
Canada is playing catch-up with global LNG competitors such as Australia and the U.S., and proponents of Canadian projects are struggling after the oil-market collapse brought down LNG prices and caused companies to crimp spending on mega-projects.
The delay for Pacific NorthWest LNG is â€œprobably not unreasonableâ€ because itâ€™s part of the regulatory process, said Alex Ferguson, vice president of policy and performance at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Still, each delay becomes an issue for Canada and whether the country can get large energy infrastructure projects approved and built, he said.
â€œCapital has a lot of opportunities and Canadaâ€™s reputation is at stake,â€ Ferguson said in an interview. â€œWe hope the government can take action so that these projects can get done.â€
Pacific NorthWest LNG is a C$36 billion ($28 billion) project being proposed by Petronas, as Petroliam Nasional is known, along with partners Indian Oil Corp. Ltd., Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Brunei National Petroleum Co.
The regulatorâ€™s move comes after Catherine McKenna, Canadaâ€™s environment and climate change minister, on Friday approved the smaller Woodfibre LNG project near Squamish, British Columbia, just north of Vancouver.