Blog: FortisBC wins Indigenous support for LNG projects

With two LNG-related projects in the works, FortisBC has been seeking, and winning, support from affected First Nations.

The first project is the proposed further expansion of FortisBC’s Tilbury LNG plant in Delta.

Powered by renewable hydroelectricity, the Tilbury facility has been creating lower-carbon LNG since 1971.

It was initially designed to store LNG that could be turned back into natural gas, to be added to FortisBC’s domestic gas-distribution system, and thus to ensure meeting customers’ demand, even during extra-cold winters.

In 2017 the Tilbury facility also shipped the first B.C. LNG to go to China — a single ISO container of 17 tonnes.

And since that year it has also been sending LNG, by truck, to refuel B.C. ferries and Seaspan cargo ferries that use LNG.

In 2018, the Tilbury plant began a round of expansion, Phase 1, a $400-million project that included the spending of more than $119 million with over 400 Lower Mainland suppliers since 2014, including 25 Indigenous-affiliated vendors. An additional planned expansion of Phase 1 would add up to another 0.65 million tonnes of LNG production capacity.

Next the plan is for Phase 2 of expansion, to increase Tilbury’s production up to 2.5 million tonnes of LNG a year, and the construction of an additional storage tank that will hold up to 142,400 cubic metres of LNG.

The cost of this expansion is estimated at $3-3.5 billion.  As one of the largest capital projects in the Lower Mainland, it would add an estimated $1.7 billion to B.C.’s gross domestic product.

Subject to federal and provincial approvals, construction could begin as early as 2025 — and the Musqueam Indian Band already has an agreement with FortisBC that means further partnership and the sharing of benefits, and the second equity partnership on an LNG facility for the company.

In addition, FortisBC and Seaspan are forming a partnership to develop a marine jetty in the lower Fraser River adjacent to FortisBC’s Tilbury facility.

Through a pipeline from the Tilbury facility, the jetty would supply LNG as fuel to visiting vessels — and have the capability to deliver B.C.-produced energy to customers across the Pacific Northwest, and overseas as well.

And it would include ecological remediation of the shoreline of the Fraser River, removing abandoned infrastructure, restoring natural river contours, and creating and enhancing aquatic and terrestrial habitat.

In addition, the project has already made financial commitments to support habitat enhancement projects and to address cumulative effects, and collaborated with the Musqueam Indian Band to create a marine communications protocol to ensure impacts to fishing are minimized.

The project formally recognizes that “Since time immemorial, Indigenous Peoples have established fishing camps, settlements, hunting grounds, trading sites, spiritual sites and other traditional use areas, on the banks of the Fraser River, and in the upland areas in Tsawwassen and North Delta. . . .

“Indigenous Peoples continue to have a way of life that is strongly tied to the Fraser River and its resources (and) Indigenous Peoples continue to regularly fish and use the Fraser River.”

All those things, and the river and sea routes involved, mean more First Nations need a voice. And FortisBC has long been in discussions and seeking input.

The project team has engaged with over 30 Indigenous communities through working sessions, individual meetings, and two-way exchanges of information. .

The Musqueam partnership agreement also covers the jetty project, and the jetty has already received consent letters from these First Nations: Snuneymuxw, T’Sou-ke, Esquimalt, Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Pacheedaht, Pauquachin, and  First Nations of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society: Huu-ay-aht, Kyuquot/Checleseht, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (formerly known as the Ucluelet Nation).

And FortisBC points out: “As the project moves forward, Indigenous communities will have opportunities for training and employment, business procurement and ongoing monitoring.”

Says Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO of FortisBC: “Tilbury LNG is an all-around win-win, from decarbonizing the marine sector to improving air quality and sharing economic benefits with local and Indigenous businesses.

“We look forward to the day we can call our region the ‘port of call’ for low-carbon marine fuelling on the West Coast.”

(FortisBC  is an affiliate member of our Alliance.)

Aerial photo: FortisBC Tilbury site

Site of FortisBC’s Tilbury LNG operation, and proposed marine jetty

(Posted here 01 May 2024) 





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