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Nisga’a Nation and partners move ahead with LNG project expected to be worth $55 billion

Barbara Shecter

The Ksi Lisims LNG project will produce one of the world’s lowest unit carbon emissions rates for a large-scale LNG export project, Western LNG’s founder said

The development of a liquid natural gas export project based in British Columbia with estimated economic impact of $55 billion took a major step forward Monday as the group behind the proposal kicked off the regulatory process by filing an initial project description with Ottawa and the government of British Columbia.

The project is a partnership between The Nisga’a Nation, Texas-based liquid natural gas export facilities developer Western LNG and Rockies LNG, a limited partnership of oil-and-gas producers that collectively produce about 20 per cent of Canada’s natural gas.

The proposed 12-million-tonne-per-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is to be located at Wil Milit on the northern tip of Pearse Island near the Nisga’a village of Gingolx, with Asia targeted as a key export market. Commercial operations at The Ksi Lisims LNG project are expected to begin in late 2027 or 2028.

“Attracting an economic base to the Nass Valley has long been a priority for the Nisga’a Nation,” said Eva Clayton, president of the Nisga’a Nation. “This is why, for close to a decade, our Nation has worked to attract a world-leading LNG project to our treaty lands.”

The Ksi Lisims LNG project is moving forward despite the cancellation of several other multi-billion-dollar LNG export projects in B.C., including the $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project near Prince Rupert and Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $25-billion West Coast Canada LNG project.

Western LNG founder and chief Davis Thames said Ksi Lisims LNG will produce one of the world’s lowest unit carbon emissions rates for a large-scale LNG export project, and added that the project’s “floating design” would be central to delivering it to the remote location on time and on budget.

“We are very excited to work with the Nisga’a Nation and Rockies LNG to bring the Ksi Lisims LNG project to market,” he said. “This project will be important to the global LNG industry as it navigates the energy transition.”

In a news release, the partners noted that more than 70 per cent of primary energy demand in Asia is currently met by coal and oil.

“Replacing coal and oil with LNG exported from Ksi Lisims LNG would result in a reduction of global carbon emissions of more than 45 million tonnes per year, or 1.3 gigatonnes over a 30-year period, which is equivalent to nearly two years of total carbon emissions from Canada,” they said.

Charlotte Raggett, chief executive of Rockies LNG, said the project would provide Canadian natural gas producers with new access to growing global energy markets, and “importantly, global LNG prices.”

Two natural gas pipeline projects are being evaluated for Ksi Lisims LNG, according to the release. Both have received regulatory approvals following environmental assessment processes and can connect resources in northeastern B.C. to the proposed project site. The selected pipeline would be owned and operated by a third party.

Nisga’a Nation President Eva Clayton.
Nisga’a Nation President Eva Clayton. Photo by Arlen Redekop/Postmedia/File

If the Ksi Lisims LNG project moves ahead as intended, it will generate public revenues, jobs — including up to 4,000 construction jobs — training and business opportunities for First Nations and other communities in British Columbia and Alberta. Total direct and indirect economic impact including infrastructure and upstream activities is estimated at about $55 billion.

The latest step in the project’s development comes two decades after the Nisga’a Nation entered into the first modern treaty in British Columbia. The Nation has treaty rights to more than 26,000 square kilometres, including the proposed site at Wil Milit.

In the release, the partners said the Ksi Lisims LNG project “aligns with the Nisga’a Nation’s vision for self determination and is enabled by the Nisga’a Final Agreement and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

In June, Canada’s senate passed Bill C-15, which requires the government to ensure laws conform with the UN declaration enshrining Indigenous rights including the right to self-determination.

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