Petronas to make LNG decision in B.C. by April, gas minister says

Petronas will make a final investment decision on its Pacific NorthWest LNG project by April, B.C.’s natural gas minister says.

The Malaysian state-owned energy company is currently repricing the project, including the costs of steel and pipes, Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman told Bloomberg last week.

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“They hope to have that done in three to six months. Once they’ve done that, they’ll go back to the partners and decide whether to make a final investment decision,” Coleman said.

If true, any decision will put the future of a liquefied natural gas industry front and centre in the election campaign season leading up to the May 9 provincial election. It also puts cold water on earlier suggestions by local industry leaders in Fort St. John that a decision would come following the election.

Petronas told Bloomberg it is still reviewing the project, which received federal environmental approval from Canada in September, and working to lower its capital costs. It did not confirm Coleman's assertions of an April decision.

“Before the project can proceed to a positive final investment decision, we need to ensure the project is competitive with similar projects around the world,” the company said.

In an email to the Prince Rupert Northern View, the province's Ministry of Natural Gas Development said a decision on the project was expected by the end of summer.

“Minister Coleman met with Petronas executives about a month ago in Malaysia. The business development trip was an opportunity for the minister to meet with the recently appointed chairman of the board for both Progress Energy Canada Ltd. and Pacific NorthWest LNG Datuk Mohd Anuar Taib,” the ministry wrote.

“Petronas and their partners are in the process of reviewing the various elements of their proposal, along with the 190 conditions within the federal government’s environmental approval. The company indicated it would complete the review sometime next summer.”

Coleman met with Petronas executives in October. He told Bloomberg the project’s partners, which include China Petrochemical Corp., Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Indian Oil Corp. and Brunei National Petroleum Co., remain on board.

“There was no indication that any of the partners aren’t still in,” he said. “They have a really strong focus on getting it to be financially viable.”

The facility, which would be built on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, is currently estimated to cost $11.4 billion and would process gas from Northeast B.C. for export to Asia.
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Story updated to include ministry comments to the Prince Rupert Northern View.
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