Petronas LNG delay not due to B.C., Coleman says

Malaysian-led project still needs federal approval for site, CEO concerned about U.S. competition for gas exports to Asia

Lelu Island at the Prince Rupert port is the proposed location for an $11 billion LNG export terminal.

Malaysian oil and gas giant Petronas has put off its final investment decision on a large-scale liquefied natural gas project until some time in 2015, but it’s not because of B.C.’s taxes and conditions, says Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman.

Pacific Northwest LNG, a consortium led by Petronas for a pipeline and terminal at the Prince Rupert port, issued a statement Wednesday citing construction costs and federal approvals it still needs for a pipeline and plants worth $36 billion.

“Costs associated with the pipeline and LNG facility remain challenging and must be reduced further before a positive final investment decision can be undertaken,” the statement says. “At the same time, Pacific Northwest LNG will continue to work to secure necessary regulatory and other approvals from the government of Canada.”

Coleman said he was consulted on the statement and remains optimistic about the project going ahead. The province set its tax and greenhouse gas rules for LNG projects during the fall legislature session, and completed agreements with the Nisga’a Nation to allow a gas pipeline to pass through their territory to the coast.

“It was always clear that once they got our piece completed, they would move on to making sure their numbers across the board with their partners work,” Coleman said. “That’s the pipeline, the upstream cost for gas plants, that’s the LNG plant itself, which they would build in Port Edward.”

Petronas CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas said the decision will be made as soon as possible.

“This is vital in light of the current intense market environment and for Pacific Northwest LNG not to lose out on long-term contracts to competitive United States LNG projects,” Abbas said.

NDP natural gas critic Bruce Ralson called the decision “a setback,” noting that BG Group also cited U.S. competition in its recent decision to delay a final decision on its project for the Prince Rupert area.