John McKinleyBlack Press
Never mind the choppy waters, it’s still damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead for the firm behind Vancouver Island’s biggest industrial proposal in at least a generation.
Despite glum economic forecasts, political opposition and upheaval for one of its key partners, the CEO of Steelhead LNG says the company is still on track to meet its planned schedule on whether to proceed with a multi-billion-dollar plan to build two liquified natural gas plants on Vancouver Island.
“We are on target, given the schedule we had before,” Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko said.
Kuzemko’s comments come in the wake of Tuesday’s throne speech where Premier Christy Clark pledged the B.C. government’s continued commitment to LNG exports, despite project delays and a global glut of oil and gas.
The Shell-led LNG Canada project proposed for Kitimat has postponed its final investment decision until the end of the year, while the Petronas-led Pacific Northwest LNG proposed for Prince Rupert is also behind schedule.
In June, the International Energy Agency warned a flood of new LNG supply was coming onto the market. It suggested new plants would struggle to get off the ground as current LNG prices would not justify the capital cost.
But Kuzemko said Steelhead representatives are confident that by the time its project is operational, the markets in China and Japan will be much improved.
“2020-plus is a very different market,”he said. “The excess product will be used up by then.”
On Oct. 2, Steelhead LNG announced National Energy Board approval for a license to export up to 30 million tonnes of liquified natural gas per year over a 25-year period from two proposed sites.
Steelhead had previously announced proposals to build export facilities on each Vancouver Island coast: a $30 billion facility at Sarita Bay, about 75 kilometres southwest of Port Alberni, and a smaller floating terminal at the Bamberton site just south of the Mill Bay ferry terminal.
The Sarita Bay proposal is being explored with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, while the Mill Bay project is proceeding in conjunction with the Malahat First Nation.
The latter band received a jolt Wednesday with the announcement three top economic development officials had been dismissed as part of an ongoing review of governance and finances initiated by new Chief Caroline Harry and her council shortly after they were elected in November.
Previous chief Michael Harry resigned last summer amidst allegations he was receiving a consulting fee from the owners of a controversial contaminated soil treatment facility near Shawnigan Lake.
That occurred just prior to the band’s Aug. 20 announcement that a long-term lease deal had been reached with Steelhead for the Mill Bay plant.
Kuzemko said Steelhead is continuing to work with the new chief and council to iron out any concerns they may have.
“Every organization goes through this, particularly after a political change,” he said. “The deal that we signed is still in place.”