Steelhead LNG is pressing pause on its involvement with the Kwispaa LNG project on Vancouver Island because of shaky investor confidence in B.C., according to a project official.
News broke after the Huu-ay-aht First Nation announced it was notified by Steelhead LNG that the company had "ceased current project work" on the estimated $10- to $20-billion development.
The company has not issued a formal announcement. On Monday, Steelhead LNG spokesman Matt Skinner noted that the province's investment climate had made it challenging to secure investors and funding for the project.
“Given the current environment in B.C., investors really need a greater degree of certainty before investing in a project such as ours. We’ve paused (work) on Kwispaa for now and are evaluating,” Skinner told Victoria News.
The company has not “completely pulled out” from the project, and the government’s throne speech last week did not influence its decision, Skinner told the newspaper.
“It comes down to the challenges that exist in getting funding for these kinds of activities,” Skinner said. “At this point we’ve ceased work. That’s not to say it will never move forward but right now we’ve ceased working on (Kwispaa).”
Steelhead LNG has been jointly developing the project at Sarita Bay on Vancouver Island with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation since 2017.
It formally submitted a project description to regulators in October to establish the scope of an environmental assessment, and a final investment decision was expected this year or next.
In an open letter published Friday, Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis and hereditary Chief Derek Peters say the Huu-ay-aht will evaluate the implications of Steelhead’s decision and decide how to move forward.
"Huu-ay-aht remains committed to pursuing initiatives for meaningful economic reconciliation where we create opportunities to generate value in a global context and create employment and revenue opportunities locally," the letter says.
"As a nation, we continue to be open for business as we work to improve the lives of our citizens by seeking out economic opportunities," Dennis and Peters write.
Part of the Kwispaa LNG project is a new 1,000-kilometre pipeline and related facilities from the Chetwynd area to Vancouver Island. Steelhead LNG officials gave an update on the project to the Peace River Regional District board in January.
The NDP government released its new climate and energy strategy for the province in December, called CleanBC.
The plan sets out new benchmarks and standards for emissions and technology for proposed liquefied natural gas projects in the province, and calls for continued electrification of the oil and gas fields in Northeast B.C.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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