Woodfibre LNG plans construction kick-off

By displacing Asian coal-fired power, the facility is expected to reduce global CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tonnes per year

By James Snell
Worker on the Woodfibre LNG site near Squamish B.C. Photo courtesy Woodfibre LNG

Construction of the long awaited Woodfibre LNG export facility near Squamish B.C. is scheduled to begin in September.

The $5.1 billion project is expected to be Canada’s second entry into the soaring global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, following the LNG Canada project in the Port of Kitimat.

Woodfibre is planning a self-contained floating camp to accommodate hundreds of workers during peak construction. The facility will be contained on the old Woodfibre pulp mill site seven kilometres from Squamish.

Woodfibre, a subsidiary of Singapore’s RGE Group, has received environmental approval from the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, and the Squamish Nation. It is the first industrial project in Canada to recognize a non-treaty Indigenous government – the Squamish Nation – as a full project regulator.

“It sets the bar high for safety standards as well as environmental factors that protect the nation,” said Squamish Nation member and Indigenous business development manager Ray Natraoro.

The Nation signed an impact benefit agreement with Woodfibre in 2019 and provides a range of funding, in-kind contributions, training, and preferential employment opportunities for the community over the life of the project.

Under the direction of construction company McDermott International, hiring preference is being offered to qualified Squamish Nation members, Squamish residents, British Columbians, and Canadians.

“The project has two offtake agreements signed with BP, meaning over 70 per cent of Woodfibre’s annual throughput has already been sold,” the company says.

Running on renewable hydroelectric power, Woodfibre will produce 2.1 million tonnes of LNG annually, compared to 14 million tonnes at the $17 billion first phase of the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat. Woodfibre, with a completion date in 2027, is expected to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by expanding access to natural gas, displacing coal-fired power in Asia.

Because of its use of hydro power, Woodfibre is expected to emit just 0.04 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per tonne of LNG produced compared to the world average of 0.35 per tonnes at other LNG projects.

“Once operational, Woodfibre LNG will be the lowest-emission LNG facility in the world, providing over 100 long-term operations jobs for the lifetime of the project,” said Woodfibre president Christine Kennedy in a statement.

Woodfibre spent 2022 carrying out site remediation – closing the former pulp mill’s landfill and removing and recycling old concrete, rebar, and railway timber.

The old Woodfibre pulp mill site near Squamish B.C. on Howe Sound. Photo courtesy Woodfibre LNG

Woodfibre will source natural gas from Pacific Canbriam Energy, another RGE subsidiary, which operates in northeast B.C., a region undergoing prolific natural gas development. Gas from the region is transported to the Vancouver area by Enbridge’s T-South pipeline.

FortisBC’s planned Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline will connect natural gas from T-South to the Woodfibre site. The project is a partial twinning of an existing pipeline that supplies the Sunshine Coast. To avoid surface disruptions, a portion of the pipeline will be installed in a tunnel underneath the Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary.

“My experience working with Woodfibre is that we were engaged at all levels,” said Natraoro. “We are performing our due diligence from the Nation’s perspective. This project has been beneficial to both parties and stakeholders. We are here to ensure that we are involved in the process from the management plans to the execution of operations.”

By displacing coal-fired power generation in Asia, Woodfibre is expected to reduce global CO2 emissions by 3.5 million tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing five per cent of B.C.’s annual emissions.

Woodfibre is expected to start operating in 2027.

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