West Moberly First Nations reach project agreement on Coastal GasLink pipeline

First Nation the latest to sign deal on 670-kilometre pipeline

TransCanada Corp. announced Wednesday morning that it had reached a project agreement on the Coastal GasLink pipeline project with the West Moberly First Nations and the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation west of Prince George.

These agreements outline benefits and commitments that will be provided to these communities during the pipeline's lifetime.

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No details about these benefits and commitments have been released. 

"I don't have... specific details because of confidentiality agreements that we sign with the First Nations involved," TransCanada communications specialist Shela Shapiro said. 'Each agreement is different and based on long discussions and negotiations with each First Nation."

West Moberly First Nations' economic development office did not return calls for comment on the agreement.

The Coastal GasLink project is a proposed 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline that will stretch from the Groundbirch area, between Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, to the proposed LNG Canada liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility near Kitimat, B.C.

The pipeline and corresponding export facility would bring natural gas from Northeast B.C. to the coast for export to Asian markets. 

The Blueberry River First Nation north of Fort St. John, had signed a similar agreement in December. Saulteau First Nations, West Moberly's neighbour, have also signed off on a deal with TransCanada regarding the pipeline.

The project has received support from the Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce, City of Dawson Creek and Dawson Creek & District Chamber of Commerce, the Chetwynd Chamber of Commerce, the District of Chetwynd and others.

Whether or not the pipeline will go ahead is dependent on the final investment decision on the Kitimat export facility from the LNG Canada consortium.

The Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led LNG Canada partnership includes Mitsubishi, PetroChina, and Korea Gas Corp.

Mitsubishi is a member of the Cutbank Ridge partnership with Encana, one of the most active driller in the South Peace area. 

Cutbank announced in December that it had approved a $715-million gas processing plant for a site south of Fort St. John, in conjunction with Veresen Inc.

Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Dawson Creek Jim Chute noted at a Jan. 18 council meeting that First Nations approval goes a long way towards inching these projects forward and finding a market for natural gas in the region. 

"The thing (council has) emphasized to me several times, that you've heard from industry is you can't overstate the competitive advantage the Shell plant has because it has First Nations' sign off," he said. 

In comparing the project to other export facilities, Chute said "I think LNG Canada are much closer (to a final investment decision)."

Crews broke ground on the LNG Canada site in early December.

dcreporter@dcdn.ca

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