Wet’suwet’en First Nation signing on to Coastal GasLink pipeline project, province says

The elected council of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation  have signed an agreement with British Columbia for the proposed Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project,  a news release from the province says.

The news release says:

Wet'suwet'enThe Wet’suwet’en First Nation will receive approximately $2.8 million from the Province at three different stages in the CGL project: $464,000 upon signing the agreement, $1.16 million when pipeline construction begins, and $1.16 million when the pipeline is in service.

The Wet’suwet’en First Nation will also receive a yet-to-be-determined share of $10 million a year in ongoing benefits per pipeline. The ongoing benefits will be available to First Nations along the natural gas pipeline routes. The B.C. government anticipates signing similar agreements with other First Nations in the near future.

Provincial benefit-sharing offers First Nations resources to partner in economic development, complements industry impact benefit agreements that provide jobs and business opportunities, and is a way for government and First Nations to work together to help grow the LNG industry.

John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation  says in the release,  “Too many First Nation communities have been left out of economic growth in B.C. for far too long. It’s exciting to be able to partner with First Nations like the Wet’suwet’en so they can share in the benefits of a new LNG export industry – stronger economies, good-paying jobs and collectively working to establish environmental legacies made possible by LNG development.”

The release quotes Chief Karen Ogen, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, as saying, “Pipeline benefits agreements are just one vehicle driving our participation in LNG development. While these agreements ensure First Nation communities share in the economic benefits of LNG, we are working collaboratively with the Province and other First Nations to ensure environmental priorities are addressed as well.”

The release also quotes Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development  as saying, “Our government continues to build strong partnerships with First Nations as LNG development gains momentum. Pipeline benefits agreements like this one pave the way for job creation and economic growth as we work together to further the potential of our natural gas sector.”

The news release says the Wet’suwet’en First Nation is among the 15 First Nations located along the Chevron/Apache Pacific Trail Pipeline route that have already signed agreements that will provide $32 million in benefits to First Nations once construction has started.

British Columbia issued an environmental assessment certificate for the proposed CGL project this fall. In addition to meeting conditions set out in the environmental assessment certificate, the project will now require various federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed.

When the certificate was approved in October, the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which represents hereditary leadership issued a release saying:

B.C. ‘s approval of Coastal GasLink Pipeline project does not mean the project is a go.   The Wet’suwet’en still have the right to determine the use of the land and our future.

Not enough information has been made available through the regulatory process to determine environmental impacts nor infringements to Wet’suwet’en rights title and interest.

Current benefits offered by the province and pipeline companies do not take into account the impacts and infringements to our lands, culture and community well-being, for today and into the future.


One group, the Unist’ot’en Camp,  representing one house of the Wet’suwet’en continues to camp out in the bush, and the group says they are determined to block any pipeline construction within their traditional territory.

In its news release, BC says,  benefits agreements are separate and different than industry impact benefit agreements. Pipeline benefits agreements are made between the Province and First Nations, exclusive of proponents. Impact benefit agreements are made between proponents and First Nations, exclusive of the Province.


Chevron sticks with Kitimat but no final investment decision until customers sign

Chevron is sticking with the Kitimat LNG project but won’t make a Final Investment Decision until it has signed sales and purchase agreements for between 60 and 70 per cent of the natural gas, Chevron’s vice-chairman and executive vice-president of upstream operations, George Kirkland told investment analysts in a conference call Friday.

Kirkland said that decision will happen “irrespective of what happens with Apache,” which has decided to completely exit the project.

Chevron Logo“We need to get partnership resolved and Apache has to move through the issues s and we need to get a new partner in. That needs to happen. That’s quite obvious,” Kirkland added.

Other factors, Kirkland told the call, are final test results from the Liard and Horn River natural gas play in northeast British Columbia and finalization of the “pipeline corridor.”

Kitimat-Liard-Horn package

Although the residents of Kitimat are focused on the LNG terminal at Bish Cove, remarks both by Kirkland today and by Apache CEO Steve Farris Thursday, it appears that energy industry views Kitimat LNG as part of a “package” (a term used by both) that includes the Liard and Horn River gas fields and the connecting Pacific Trails Pipeline.

Kirkland also said Chevron has no interest in any further investment beyond the 50 per cent it already holds. “We have 50 per cent of the interest in Kitimat-Liard-Horn River assets. That’s right in the middle of the sweet spot where we like to be where we’re committing people to run the projects and operations. We don’t want more than 50 per cent but we do have available some small amount of working interest that we would provide to a LNG buyer.

“There’s always been a plan for us and Apache to have some working interest that could be sold down to buyers, so they would be part of the development and they would be in the value chain. That has not changed.”

Kitimat LNG’s rival project LNG Canada, run by Shell, has buyer partners in KoGas, Mitsubishi and PetroChina.

Bish Cove
Kitimat LNG under construction at Bish Cove, September 2013. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Final Investment Decision

One analyst asked Kirkland if the Final Investment Decision would come at the end of 2014, as previously announced, or in 2015. Instead, Kirkland said, “We will reach FID shortly after having 60 to 70 per cent gas committed to an SPA- a sales and purchase agreement. That is the critical decision maker and for both timing and the investment decision, irrespective of what happens with Apache. We’re driven, once again, by having a sales contract or sales contracts that gives us 60 to 70 per cent of the gas committed at an economic price.”

On the Kitimat terminal, Kirkland said, “We’ve got work going on, FEED [Front End Engineering and Design] work on the plant itself.

“We have to understand cost and schedule on that plant… We’re not spending huge money but it is a lot of money in terms of  hundreds  of millions of dollars.  Now that is critical for us to have all that so we can deal knowledgeably with buyers. We have to understand cost. We have to understand resource,  so we can deal with the particulars of pricing.

“We are not going to do a project unless it’s economic. We’ve always told you we’re not going to build that project unless we have 60 per cent of the gas sold. If you understand the project it makes sense.”

“I am not concerned if Apache leaves,” Kirkland said. “I think we could easily step in and be the operator of the upstream. I am confident there. Apache has been very good to work with in the early stages of the assessment of Liard.

“I think we’re in good shape but we need clarity, we need to get closure on the partnership and as I mentioned we have to do the work where we deal with buyers and understand costs and understand economics. We are very value driven, we are not going to go FID until we understand the economics of that sale.”

Confident on assets

Kirkland said that the company is confident about the assets in the Liard and Horn River regions but is waiting for final results from some test wells in the Liard.
“We can check off our confidence level on the Horn River. Resources are already high. We’ve already done that appraisal. So the focus on the resource sector is on the Liard,  with some appraisal there and getting some production work. The wells where we need to get some production data  will be complete by the end of the year. So that’s a really important step forward.”

Kirkland also hinted at the potential problems with the Pacific Trails Pipeline, where there is still a dispute with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. “We’re going to focus on the pipeline and the end of the pipeline corridor. That’s important and we’re putting some money into that to finalize the pipeline routing, get all our clearances and then we’ve got work going on.”

Chevron slide
Slide from the Chevron second quarter results presentation showing other LNG projects (Chevron)

Overall Kirkland was enthusiastic about other liquified natural gas projects in Australia and elsewhere in the world. Chevron Corporation reported earnings of $5.7 billion for the second quarter 2014, compared with $5.4 billion in the 2013 second quarter. Sales and other operating revenues in the second quarter 2014 were $56 billion, compared to $55 billion in the year-ago period.

Company CEO John Watson said a news release, “In Australia, our Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects continue to reach important interim milestones. Gorgon remains on track for expected start-up in mid-2015. We are also advancing the development of our liquids-rich, unconventional properties in the United States, Canada and Argentina.”

Second floating LNG terminal eyed for Kitimat at Douglas Channel log sort

PNG Pipeline Looping Project map (PNG)
PNG Pipeline Looping Project map (PNG)

A second floating liquified natural gas terminal may be planned for Kitimat, Northwest Coast Energy News has learned.

According to multiple sources in Kitimat, Altagas, the parent company of Pacific Northern Gas plans the terminal at the old log sort site on Douglas Channel, where the barge carrying the liquifaction equipment would likely be moored next door to the already planned BC LNG/Douglas Channel Partners LNG project which would be served by gas delivered by the PNG pipeline system.

Pacific Northern Gas has filed an application with the BC Environmental Assessment Office to construct and operate an approximately 525 kilometre, 610 millimetre (24 inch) diameter natural gas pipeline from the natural gas hub at Summit Lake, near Prince George, to Kitimat that would loop or twin the existing PNG existing natural gas pipeline.

The application to the BCEAO says: “The proposed Project would supply natural gas to proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities as well as the Proponent’s existing customers. The proposed Project would include the replacement of four existing compressor stations and would have an initial capacity of 600 million standard cubic feet per day.”

PNG Open House
PNG Pipeline Looping Project Open House at Tamitik. Nov. 26, 2013. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

On Tuesday, November 26, Pacific Northern Gas held a sparsely attended open house at Tamitik Arena as part of the BCEAO public comment procedure.

A 38 day public comment period on the application information requirements started on November 25 and will end on January 2, 2014.

At the open house,  PNG officials explained that “looping” means that there would be a second or twin pipeline that would mostly be on a parallel route to the existing pipeline. Since both pipelines would begin at the Summit Lake terminal and end at the Kitimat terminal that is where the term “looping” comes in.

The PNG officials said that the pipeline was initially designed to service the first floating LNG terminal at the old log sort site on Douglas Channel south of Kitimat, but north of the KM LNG site at Bish Cove.

It would be operated by  BC LNG Energy Cooperative, through Douglas Channel Energy Partnership, a partnership with the Haisla Nation and LNG Partners, the energy investors mainly from Texas,

Unlike the bigger project Kitimat LNG or KM LNG, a partnership between Chevron and Apache (and according to reports possibly Sinopec) or the Shell-led partnership LNG Canada, the BC LNG project would allow smaller companies to provide LNG to Asian customers.

At the open house, the PNG officials said the two pipelines could also service “another Kitimat floating LNG project” but declined to give details for confidentiality reasons. The same officials also said the proponent of that project was also looking at Prince Rupert as a possible site for the second floating terminal.

Kitimat sources have confirmed that AltaGas has told them that the company is also considering Prince Rupert as a site for a floating LNG terminal.

However, the current documentation and maps filed with the BCEAO show the PNG looping pipeline terminating at Kitimat, not Prince Rupert.

PNG pipeline map
Detail of the PNG Pipeline Looping proposal. The existing pipeline is shown at the dashed line, the new pipeline is shown in purple. (PNG)

According to the maps filed with the BCEAO and made available at the open house, the new pipeline would not be twinned completely along the existing route across the mountains west of Smithers to Terrace, but would head north at Telkwa parallel to Highway 16 before making its own way through the mountains, crossing the existing pipeline at the Zymoetz River east of Terrace and then taking a westerly route toward Lakelese Lake before joining the existing pipeline corridor along Highway 37.
AltaGas took over Pacific Northern Gas in the fall of 2011.

The Texas-based arm of Douglas Channel Energy partnership, LNG Partners,  is currently in financial difficulty. Reports say that the Texas investors in the company are having difficulty repaying a $22.5 million loan from China’s ENN Group.

The problems currently faced by the Texas group have no affect, at this point, on the Haisla Nation investment in the BC LNG Energy Cooperative. There is already speculation in Kitimat that if the LNG Partners get into further financial difficulty, AltaGas may step in and take over. The would raise the question whether or not there would still be two floating LNG terminals on Douglas Channel, or just the one, as originally planned, but under new ownership.

In it’s project proposal PNG says

The Project will generate approximately 1800-2400 direct person years of employment during construction. Additionally, tax benefits will be generated for Kitimat and the regional districts crossed by the pipeline. PNG anticipates the project will also result in a significant reduction in natural gas transportation rates for its existing customers.

Natural gas transportation costs are a major issue in the northwest, for those costs appear to keep going up while the price of natural gas in North America is generally going down. Natural gas transportation costs in Kitimat spiked after the closure of the Methanex plant and have continued to be quite high, which is just one of the increasing burdens for residents of Kitimat on fixed or low incomes, who are not benefiting as others from the current boom town economy.

Another problem facing PNG is that the new pipeline will cross the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, where one house, the Unist’ot’en oppose both the Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails Pipeline and have set up a blockade camp on access roads.

The PNG filing with the BCEAO promises consultation with both the Wet’suwet’en Council, and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which represents the hereditary chiefs and matriarchs, as well as other First Nations along the proposed route.


PNG Open houses for the project are scheduled for:

Friendship Centre Hall
Thursday, November 28, 2013

Best Western Inn
Monday, December 2, 2013

Hudson Bay Lodge
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Burns Lake
Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Summit Lake
Community Hall
Thursday, December 5, 2013


TransCanada plans rugged over-mountain route for gas pipeline to Kitimat


Coastal GasLink map
A map from TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink showing the conceptual route of the proposed natural gas pipeline from the shale gas fields in northeastern BC through the mountains to Kitimat and the proposed Shell LNG facility. (TransCanada)

TransCanada plans a rugged over-mountain route for its proposed Coastal Gaslink pipeline to the Shell Canada liquified natural gas project in Kitimat, BC, company officials said Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in two presentations, one to District of Kitimat Council and a second at a community town hall briefing.

The pipeline would initially carry 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Montney Formation region of northeastern British Columbia along a 48 inch (1.2 metre) diameter pipe over 700 kilometres from Groundbirch, near Dawson Creek, to Kitimat, site of the proposed Shell Canada LNG Canada project.

Rick Gateman, President of Coastal GasLink Project, a wholly owned TransCanada subsidiary told council that the project is now at a “conceptual route” stage because TransCanada can’t proceed to actual planning until it has done more detailed survey work and community consultations.

At the same council meeting, documents from Shell Canada notified the District that it has formally applied to the National Energy Board for an export licence for the natural gas.

Rick Gateman
Rick Gateman, president of TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink addresses District of Kitimat Council, Oct. 15, 2012. (Robin Rowland)

Gateman told council that since the pipeline itself will be completely within the province of British Columbia, it comes under the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Environmental Assessment process and the BC Oil and Gas Commission and that the NEB will not be involved in approving the pipeline itself.

At first, the Coastal Gas Link pipeline would be connected to the existing Nova Gas Transmission system now used (and being expanded) in northeastern British Columbia.

From Vanderhoof, BC to west of Burns Lake, the Coastal GasLink pipeline would be somewhat adjacent to existing pipelines and the route of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway bitumen pipeline and the proposed Pacific Trails natural gas pipeline.

Somewhat south of Houston, however, the pipeline takes a different route from the either the Northern Gateway or Pacific Trails Pipeline, going southwest, avoiding the controversial Mount Nimbus route.

Howard Backus, an engineering manager with TransCanada told council that the route changes so that Coastal GasLink can avoid “congestion” in the rugged mountain region.

Backus said that the Pacific Trails Pipeline for Apache and its partners in the Kitimat LNG project “is skirting” Nimbus while Enbridge plans to tunnel through the mountain. That tunnel is one of the most controversial aspects to the Northern Gateway project. The local environmental group Douglas Channel Watch has repeatedly warned of the dangers of avalanche and geological instability in the area where the Northern Gateway pipeline emerges from the tunnel. Enbridge has challenged Douglas Channel Watch’s conclusions in papers filed with the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel.

Under TransCanada’s conceptual route, the pipeline heads southwest and then climbs into the mountains, crossing what Backus calls “a saddle” (not a pass) near the headwaters of the Kitimat River. The pipeline then comes down paralleling Hircsh Creek, emerging close to town, crossing the Kitimat River and terminating at the old Methanex plant where Shell plans its liquified natural gas plant. (That means that if the conceptual plans go ahead, the TransCanada pipeline would climb into the mountains, while Pacific Trails finds a way around and Enbridge tunnels).

Backus told council that going north “created more issues,” but did not elaborate.

Backus assured people at the town hall that energy companies have a lot of experience in building pipelines in mountainous areas, including the Andes in South America.

Asked by a local businessman at the town hall if it was possible to build a road along the route of the pipeline, Backus said the mountain areas would be too steep.  Any pipeline maintenance would have to be done by tracked vehicle, he said.

Gateman told council that the pipeline would be buried along its entire route. If Shell increases the capacity of its LNG facility in Kitimat, the Coastal Gaslink pipeline could increase to 3.4 billion cubic feet a day or perhaps even more. For the initial capacity, the company will have one compressor station at the eastern end of the line. If capacity increases or if the route requires it, there could be as many as five additional compressor stations. (TransCanada’s long term planning is based on the idea that Shell will soon be adding natural gas from the rich Horn River Formation also in northeastern BC to the Kitimat export terminal.)

TransCanada will begin its field work, including route and environmental planning and “community engagement” in 2013 and file for regulatory approval in 2014. Once the project is approved, construction would begin in 2015.

Gateman said that TransCanada is consulting landowners along the proposed right of way and “on a wide area on either side.” The company also is consulting 30 First Nations along the proposed route. Gateman told council, “We probably have the most experience of any number of companies in working directly with and engaging directly with First Nations because of our pipelines across Canada.”

(Despite Gateman’s statement, the TransCanada maps showed that the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline would cross Wet’suwet’en traditional territory and officials seemed to be unaware of the ongoing problems between Apache and the Pacific Trails Pipeline and some Wet’suwet’en Houses who oppose that pipeline).

Gateman told council that the pipeline would be designed to last at least 60 years. He said that in the final test stages, the pipeline would be pressured “beyond capacity” using water rather than natural gas to try and find if any leaks developed during construction.

He said that the company would restore land disrupted by the construction of the pipeline, but noted that it would only restore “low-level vegetation.” Trees are not permitted too close to the pipeline for safety reasons.

TransCanada made the usual promises the region has heard from other companies of jobs, opportunities for local business and wide consultations. (TransCanada may have learned lessons from the botched public relations by the Enbridge Northern Gateway. A number of Kitimat residents have told Northwest Coast Energy News that TransCanada was polling in the region in mid-summer, with callers asking many specific questions about environment and the spinoffs for communities).

Councillor Phil Germuth questioned Gateman about the differences between a natural gas pipeline and a petroleum pipeline. Gateman replied that the pipelines are pretty much the same with the exception that a natural gas pipeline uses compressor stations while a petroleum pipeline uses pumping stations. Gateman did note that the original part of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry bitumen through Alberta and US mountain states to Texas was a natural gas pipeline converted to carry the heavier hydrocarbons.

Although the natural gas projects have, so far, enjoyed wide support in northwestern British Columbia, environmental groups and First Nations have raised fears that sometime in the future, especially if there is overcapacity in natural gas lines, that some may converted to bitumen, whether or not Northern Gateway is approved and actually goes ahead.

Shell application to NEB

In a fax to District of Kitimat council, Shell Canada Senior Regulatory Specialist Scot MacKillop said that the Shell had applied to the National Energy Board on September 25, 2012 for a licence to export LNG via Kitimat for the next 25 years.

The Shell proposal, like the previous Kitimat LNG and BC LNG proposals, are export applications, unlike the Enbridge Northern Gateway which is a “facility application.”
In its letter to Shell’s lawyers, the NEB took pains to head off any objections to the project on environmental or other grounds by saying:

the Board will assess whether the LNG proposed to exported does not exceed the surplus reaming after due allowance has been made for the reasonably foreseeable requirements for use in Canada. The Board cannot consider comments that are unrelated…such as those relating to potential environmental effects of the proposed exportation and any social effects that would be directly related to those environmental effects.

The Empire Strikes Back I: Enbridge takes on First Nations, small intervenors

Douglas Channel
Douglas Channel at the site of the proposed Enbridge marine terminal, June 27, 2012. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Enbridge is striking back against the First Nations and intervenors who oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline and marine terminal projects by filing questions that those groups must answer as part of the Joint Review Process.

On May 11, 2012, Enbridge filed questions with 24 organizations,  and from the questions, it appears that Enbridge isn’t  just building a strictly legal case in their favour but are preparing to try and discredit opponents.

Enbridge’s questions are part of the legal process. For months, First Nations and intervenors have been filing a whole series of questions asking for clarification of items in the Enbridge’s filings on the project with Joint Review Process and Enbridge has the legal right to ask the First Nations and intervenors to clarify their positions.

However, the difference is that Enbridge is a giant corporation which can afford to spend millions of dollars on both the approval process as well as the current nationwide advertising process, while some of the intervenors are made up of volunteers or retirees working on their own time. Sources among the intervenors have been saying for months that they believe that Enbridge is following a perceived policy of working to wear down the opponents so much they burn out and drop out of the process.

A large proportion of the questions Enbridge is demanding that First Nations and intervenors answer are overtly political, rather than technical responses to their filings.

In an apparent escalation of its campaign against its opponents, Enbridge is using the Joint Review process to ask intervenors about funding, naming such hot button organizations such as Tides Canada, which is under attack by the Harper government.  Enbridge is also  questioning  the “academic credentials” of numerous intervenors and commenters, even though the Joint Review Panel has spent most of the past seven months asking people to comment based on “local knowledge,” leaving the technical questions to the documents filed with the JRP

Some key questions directed at both the Haisla and Wet’suwet’en First Nations seem to indicate that Enbridge is preparing to build both a legal and probably a public relations case questioning the general, but not unanimous support for liquified natural gas projects in northwestern BC, by saying “Why not Northern Gateway,” as seen in this question to the Haisla Nation.

Please advise as to whether similar measures would be requested by the Haisla First Nation to deal with construction-related impacts of the Northern Gateway Project.

Black Swan

A series of questions to the coalition known as the Coastal First Nations questions the often heard assertion that an oil spill on the BC coast is “inevitable,” and Enbridge appears to be prepared to argue that spills are not inevitable. Enbridge asks Coastal First Nations about a study that compared the bitumen that could be shipped along the coast with the proposed LNG projects.

Please provide all environmental and risk assessment studies, including studies of “Black Swan” events, conducted by the Coastal First Nations or any of its members in respect of the LNG projects referred to.

Enbridge is referring to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s now widely known “theory of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology.”

It is Black Swan events that most of the people of the northwest coast fear when it comes to all the major energy projects, but if as Taleb says they are hard-to-predict and rare, how can the studies Enbridge is requesting actually predict those disasters?

Enbridge’s questions to the Haisla Nation runs for 28 pages and many of those questions are political, not technical, including asking for details of the Haisla support for the various Kitimat liquified natural gas projects and who may be funding the Haisla participation in the Joint Review Process. Many technical questions around the questions of “acceptable risk” and it appears, despite the fact Enbridge officials have listened to the Haisla official presentation at Kitamaat Village last January and the speeches of Haisla members this week at the pubic comment hearings, that Enbridge is preparing to use a paper-based or Alberta-based concept of acceptable risk as opposed to listening to the First Nation that will be most directly affected by any disaster in the Kitimat harbour or estuary.

(See The Enbridge Empire Strikes Back II The Haisla “fishing expedition”)

A series of questions seems to negate Enbridge’s claim that it has the support of many First Nations along the pipeline route because Enbridge is asking for details of agreements that First Nations have reached with the Pacific Trails Pipeline. Enbridge has consistently refused to release a list of the First Nations it claims has agreements with the company, but in the questions filed with the JRP, Enbridge is asking for details of agreements First Nations in northern BC have reached with the Pacific Trails Pipeline.

Funding demands

For example, while Enbridge is refusing to name all the backers of the pipeline for reasons of corporate confidentiality, the company is asking who may be funding the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in its appearances before the Joint Review Panel, including the US-based foundations named by right-wing blogger Vivian Krause,  (note Krause recently declared victory and suspended her blog) right-wing columnists and the Harper cabinet:

Please confirm that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has received participant funding from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to participate in the Joint Review Panel (“JRP”) proceeding.

Please advise as to the amount of participant funding received to date from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Please advise whether or not the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has received funding within the
last 5 years from Tides Canada, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, or any other similar foundations, to oppose the Northern Gateway Project or to oppose oil sands projects in general.

If so, please provide the amount of funding received from each foundation.

In the case of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Enbridge is asking for details, including a membership list.

Please provide a description of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Does the Raincoast Conservation Foundation prepare Annual Reports? If so, please provide the most recently published Annual report available.

If the Raincoast Conservation Foundation is a collection of like-minded individuals, please list its members.

Did the Raincoast Conservation Foundation apply for and receive participant funding in this proceeding? If so, how much was received?

While many of Enbridge’s question to the RainCoast Foundation are technical, the company which is currently conducting a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in favour of the pipeline, asks:

Please confirm that the “What’s at Stake? study” was prepared for use as a public relations tool, to advocate against approval of the Northern Gateway.

Enbridge also appears to be gearing up for personal attacks on two of the most vocal members of Kitimat’s Douglas Channel Watch, Murray Minchin and Cheryl Brown, who have been appearing regularly before District of Kitimat council to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline.


Murray Minchin
Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch addresses protesters at Kitimat City Centre Mall, Sunday, June 24, 2012, He talked about how he has learned as he goes along in examining Enbridge documents (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)


On Murray Minchin, Enbridge asks:

Written Evidence Regarding Proposed Liquid Petroleum Pipelines from the proposed Nimbus Mountain West Portal to the Kitimat River Estuary submitted by Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch…. Supplemental Written Evidence Photographic Evidence Regarding Proposed Liquid Petroleum Pipelines from Nimbus Mountain to the Kitimat River Estuary submitted by Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch….

Mr. Minchin provides extensive opinion relative to geotechnical and other technical matters. Request: Please provide Mr. Minchin’s curriculum vitae which includes his education, training and employment history, to demonstrate his qualifications to provide geotechnical and other technical opinions that appear….

Minchin is one of Enbridge’s strongest opponents in Kitimat and in his various appearances (the latest at the anti-Enbridge demonstration in Kitimat on Sunday, June 24, 2012, Minchin has told the audiences that he is self-taught and has spent much of his spare time over the past few years studying the documents Enbridge has filed with the JRP.

As for Cheryl Brown, a vocal critic of the Enbridge Community Advisory Board process, Enbridge has filed a long series of questions about her involvement with the CAB, including asking how many meetings she has attended (see document below)

Two of Enbridge’s questions about Brown stand out

Has Ms. Brown offered a suggestion for a speaker that would have provided a differing viewpoint from those of Northern Gateway?

Many people in Kitimat, not just the outspoken members of Douglas Channel Watch, say they do not trust the Community Advisory Board process. When the CAB held a meeting recently to discuss marine safety, a meeting that was heavily advertised in Kitimat Terrace area, the CAB facilitators ( from a Vancouver -based company) attempted to bar the media, including this reporter, from this “public” meeting, until apparently overruled by Enbridge’s own pubic relations staff. On the other hand, everytime Douglas Channel Watch has appeared before the District of Kitimat Council to request a public forum on Gateway issues, DCW has always insisted that Enbridge be invited to any forum, along with DCW and independent third parties.

Ms. Brown states that Enbridge has not addressed the hard questions. Please confirm that Northern Gateway responded to questions put forth by the Douglas Channel Watch in Letters to the Editor in both the Kitimat Northern Sentinel and Terrace Standard in August of 2009.

Here Enbridge appears to be basing its case on one letter to the editor that appeared in local papers three years ago. During the public comment hearings that the JRP held at Kitamaat Village earlier this week, numerous people testified time and time again that Enbridge was failing to answer major questions about the pipeline and terminal, by saying that those questions would be answered later, once the project is approved.

Bird watching

In one series of questions, Enbridge is demanding a professional level database from the Kitimat Valley Naturalists, the local birdwatching group. Quoting a submission by the naturalists group, Enbridge asks

Paragraph 2.2, indicates that the Kitimat Valley Naturalists has birding records for the estuary for over 40 years and that Kitimat Valley Naturalists visits the estuary at least 100 times per year.

Paragraph 2.3 indicates the Kitimat Valley Naturalists have local expertise in birds of the Kitimat River estuary as well as other plants and animals that utilize those habitats.

Request: To contribute to baseline information for the Kitimat River estuary and facilitate a detailed and comprehensive environmental monitoring strategy, please provide the long term database of marine birds in and adjacent to the Kitimat River estuary, with a focus on data collected by the Kitimat Valley Naturalists in recent years, and where possible, the methodology or survey design, dates, weather and assumptions for the data collection.

Today the Kitimat Valley Naturalists, three local retirees, Walter Thorne, Dennis Horwood and April Macleod filed this response with the JRP:

Northern Gateway has specifically requested the long-term database of birds occurring over many years within the Kitimat River Estuary. The data we have collected includes monthly British Columbia Coastal Water Survey (BC CWS) and yearly Christmas Bird Counts (CBC). The data from
these bird counts are available on the web or in print form.

For access to BC CWS enter http://www.bsc-eoc.org

For access to CBC data, enter http://birds.audubon.org

Historical results for CBC counts have also been published by the journal American Birds. The earliest CBC count for Kitimat was 1974.

In regard to the long-term database, we have significant numbers of records for the foreshore of the Kitimat River Estuary. The number increases when the larger estuary perimeter is considered. These cover a 40-year period with the majority in the last 20 years. We would be willing to provide this information in a meaningful format.

The Kitimat Valley Naturalists, however, lack the expertise or financial ability to convert the data into a format that would address Northern Gateway’s interest in methodology, survey design, dates, weather, and assumptions for data collection.

Alternatively, we do have access to a consulting firm, which is willing to analyze our data and convert it to a useable and practical design. We assume, since this is a considerable undertaking in both time and cost, that Northern Gateway would be willing to cover the associated fees.

We look forward to hearing back from Northern Gateway and pursuing this with a budget proposal.

Northwest Coast Energy News consulted data management experts who estimated that complying with the Enbridge request would likely cost between $100,000 and $150,000.

First Nations

Some Wet’suwet’en houses have opposed the Pacific Trails Pipeline, and while negotiations with Apache Corporation are continuing, Enbridge is asking the First Nation for details of what is happening with that pipeline.

Is it the position of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that each First Nation whose traditional territory is traversed by the proposed pipeline has a veto on whether it is approved or refused?

Please confirm that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en opposed approval of the Pacific Trails Pipeline (also known as the Kitimat Summit Lake Looping Project).

Does the Office of the Wet’suwet’en continue to oppose construction of the Pacific Trails Pipeline?

Have the First Nations who are proposing to participate as equity owners in the Pacific Trails Pipeline Project advised the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that they accept that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has a right to veto approval and construction of that Project?

Please confirm that the First Nations holding an equity ownership position or entitlement in the Pacific Trails Pipeline Project (also known as the Kitimat-Summit Lake Looping Project) include:
• Haisla First Nation
•Kitselas First Nation
•Lax Kw’alaams Band
•Lheidli T’enneh Band
•McLeod Lake Indian Band
•Metlakatla First Nation
•Nadleh Whut’en First Nation
•Nak’azdli Band
•Nee Tahi Buhn Band
•Saik’uz First Nation
•Skin Tyee First Nation
•Stellat’en First Nation
•Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation
•West Moberly First Nation
•Wet’suwet’en First Nation

The majority of questions filed with the Coast First Nations are technical challenges to studies filed by the coalition. Enbridge also filed questions with the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk Nations and the Metis Nation of Alberta.

(Disclosure: The author, who is also a photographer, sometimes accompanies members of the Kitimat Valley Naturalists to photograph birds during the time they are doing the counts)

Enbridge Cover letter to JRP Information Requests to Intervenors (pdf)

Information Request Coastal First Nations (pdf)

Information Request Haisla (pdf)

Information Request Douglas Channel Watch (pdf)

Information Request Living Oceans Society (pdf)

Information Request Raincoast Conservation (pdf)

Information Request Wet’suwet’en (pdf)

Information Request Kitimat Valley Naturalists (pdf)

Kitimat Valley Naturalists response to Enbridge (pdf)


TransCanada to build Shell’s “Coastal Gaslink” natural gas pipeline to Kitimat

Trans Canada logoShell Canada and its Asian partners have chosen TransCanada Corporation to design, build, own and operate the proposed natural gas pipline to Kitimat, now called the Coastal GasLink project.

The estimated $4-billion pipeline will transport natural gas from the Montney gas-producing region near Dawson Creek, in northeastern British Columbia to the proposed natural gas export facility at Kitimat, BC.

The LNG Canada project is a joint venture led by Shell, with partners Korea Gas Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and PetroChina Company Limited.

A news release from TransCanada says “Shell and TransCanada are working toward the execution of definitive agreements on the Coastal GasLink project.”

In the release, Russ Girling, TransCanada president and CEO says:

Our team has the expertise to design, build and safely operate pipeline systems. We look forward to having open and meaningful discussions with Aboriginal communities and key stakeholder groups, including local residents, elected officials and the Government of British Columbia, where we will listen to feedback, build on the positive and seek to address any potential concerns. Coastal GasLink will add value to British Columbians, particularly Aboriginals and communities along the conceptual route, by creating real jobs, making direct investments in communities during construction and providing economic value for years to come.

TransCanada says the company has approximately 24,000 kilometres of pipelines in operation in western Canada including 240 kilometres of pipelines in service in northeast BC. Another 125 kilometres of proposed additions either already having received regulatory approval or currently undergoing regulatory review. These pipelines form an integral and growing part of TransCanada’s NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) System, which brings natural gas from Alberta to British Columbia to a hub near Vanderhoof.

Girling said in the release:

TransCanada is a leading energy infrastructure company in North America, with a 60-year history of safe, efficient and reliable operation of our assets and a respect for the communities and environments where we operate. We appreciate the confidence that Shell and its partners have placed in us to build, own and operate this natural gas pipeline in British Columbia. We will work collaboratively with them, Aboriginals and other stakeholders as we launch into the initial phases of consultation and regulatory review.

LNG Canada logo

Project parameters


In it’s release TransCanada describes the potential Coastal GasLink pipeline project this way:

  • Receipt point: Near Dawson Creek, BC
  • Delivery point: Proposed LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, BC
  • Product: Natural gas from BC’s abundant Montney, Horn River and Cordova basins and elsewhere from the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
  • Length of route: Approximately 700 kilometres of large diameter pipe
  • Initial pipeline capacity: In excess of 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas per day
  • Anticipated jobs: Estimated 2000-2500 direct construction jobs over a 2- during construction 3 year construction period
    Estimated cost: Detailed cost information will be developed following completion of project scoping and planning. The current estimate is approximately $4 billion
  • Regulatory process: Applications for required regulatory approvals are expected to be made through applicable BC provincial and Canadian federal processes
  • Estimated in-service date: Toward the end of the decade, subject to regulatory and corporate approvals

Pipeline route

TransCanada says: “The final pipeline route will take into consideration Aboriginal and stakeholder input, the environment, archaeological and cultural values, land use compatibility, safety, constructability and economics.:

Pacific Trails Pipeline
The Pacific Trails Pipeline would go cross country to Kitimat. (PTP)

At this point there are two possible routes for the pipeline west of Vanderhoof. One route would be to follow the existing Pacific Northern Gas route that roughly parallels Highway 16. The second possibility is a cross-country route, which may lead to controversy. The Pacific Trails Pipeline, which would feed the KM LNG partners (Apache, Encana and EOG) goes across the mountains from Smithers. While the PTP project has the approval of most First Nations in the regions, Apache and PTP are still in negotiations with some Wet’suwet’en houses over portions where the pipeline would cross the traditional territory of the houses. The much more controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline follows a similar cross-country route and faces much stiffer opposition than the Pacific Trails Pipeline, due to the content of that pipeline, mainly diluted bitumen and because, critics say, Pacific Trails managed to secure the most geologically stable cross country route earlier in this decade when the pipeline was originally planned to import, not export, natural gas.

TransCanada says the Coast Gaslink pipeline will also have an interconnection with the existing Nova Gas (NGTL System and the liquid NIT) trading hub operated by TransCanada.  The company says:

A proposed contractual extension of TransCanada’s NGTL System using capacity on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, to a point near the community of Vanderhoof, BC, will allow NGTL to offer delivery service to its shippers interested in gas transmission service to interconnecting natural gas pipelines serving the West Coast. NGTL expects to elicit interest in and commitments for such service through an open season process in late 2012.

That means that the Asian customers will not be just dependent on natural gas from northeast British Columbia.  Instead the “molecules” of natural gas from Alberta will join the stream heading to Kitimat. “Open season” in the energy industry is an auction where potential customers or transporters bid for use the pipeline.

In the release Girling says:

The potential Coastal GasLink pipeline project will allow British Columbians, and all Canadians, to benefit from the responsible development of valuable natural gas resources and will provide access to new markets for that gas. The project will also create substantial employment opportunities for local, skilled labourers and businesses as part of our construction team,” concluded Girling. “We know the value and benefits that strong relationships in British Columbia can bring to this project and we look forward to deepening those ties as our extensive pipeline network grows to meet market and customer needs.

TransCanada Corp. is no stranger to controversy, the company is the main proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the US Gulf Coast. Portions of that pipeline were put on hold by President Barack Obama pending further review and Keystone has become a hot issue in the current American presidential election.

BC approves Pacific Trails Pipeline amendments

Anti-Pacific Trails Pipeline banner
A couple from Vancouver, who refused to give their names, unfurl an anti-Pacific Trails Pipeline banner at the British Columbia legislature in Victoria, Sunday, April 15, 2012. The man said he against all pipelines and that he was supporting the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. About 1,000 people marched through downtown Victoria to oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and coastal tanker traffic. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)


The BC Environmental Assessment Office has approved an application to increase the capacity of the proposed 463 kilometre Pacific Trails Pipeline from the Summit Creek natural gas hub near Prince George to Kitimat.

The $1 billion pipeline project is crucial to the success of the KM LNG liquified natural gas export terminal at Kitimat, a partnership of Apache Corp., Ecana and EOG Resources.

The main thrust of the application was to increase the capacity of the pipeline to 1066.8 mm (42 inch) from the originally proposed 914 mm (36 inch). Pacific Trails will change the location of pump stations since the original proposal was for an import pipeline while now it is for export. There are also minor changes.

The proposal was generally considered pro forma since the main environmental review was completed under the original application approval in 2008 and the BC government was only considering the changes proposed by PTP.

The government report says officials were convinced that Pacific Trails would be able to handle problems with increased traffic and any potential risk involved in drilling under watercourses.

The Haisla submitted a number of technical questions about the impact of the larger pipes. While the BC Assessment office noted in its report that the Pacific Trails Pipeline is generally outside Haisla traditional territory, it is clear from the documentation that one of the Haisla concerns are any impacts on the Kitimat River watershed, as the questions concern the Stuart and Endako Rivers, the Morice and Gosnell Creeks and Weedene and Little Wedeene Rivers. The EAO ruled that the Haisla questions were outside the scope of the amendment or should be addressed in the “permitting process.”

Some Wet’suwet’en houses have been vocal in their opposition to the Pacific Trails Pipeline crossing their traditional territory, The Office of the Wet’suwet’en filed a strong objection to certain parts of the plan.

Given that the Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and the federal government are now working to fast tracking all major resource projects, a comment from David de Wit, Wet’suwet’en natural resources manager is significant:

Fast tracking projects may result in overlooking important details [that] can have detrimental consequences. It is important to point out that the diligence required post-certification to ensure that impacts and effects on important resources are prevented or avoided is not satisfactory. This leaves the burden and legacy of any impacts to be borne by the Wet’suwet’en.

The letter goes on

We have invested considerable time and resources in the BC EAO review only to find that the level of detail required pre-certification leaves far too many unanswered questions critical for ensuring environmental effects and identification of potential infringements to our Title and associated rights from the project are avoided or minimized.

The EAO responded by saying the issues were covered by the original assessment and through the Oil and Gas Commission permit process. The letter from the Wet’suwet’en was, however, passed on to the Executive Director for further consideration

The Pacific Trials Pipeline, also known as the the Summit-to Kitimat pipeline will supply the Kitimat LNG project, a venture of the KM LNG partners, Apache Corp., Encana Corp., Apache Canada and EOG Resources. The $4.5-billion LNG terminal and facility will likely be operational by 2015, depending on how long it takes for the partners to line up Asian buyers.


BC Environmental Assessment office ruling on Pacific Trails Pipeline  (pdf)

Wet’suwet’en submission to the BC EAO  (pdf)



Joint Review Panel refuses to consider possible Enbridge plans for a natural gas Northern Gateway

The Joint Review Panel has ruled that it doesn’t have to include possible plans by Enbridge to add a natural gas pipeline to to the Northern Gateway project in its consideration of the bitumen pipeline.

Since the JRP has no evidence at the moment to suggest that Enbridge has such a project “in sufficient planning stages to warrant inclusionwithin Northern Gateway’s cumulative effects assessment,” the Panel considers that it is inappropriate to consider a possible natural gas pipeline. If Enbridge did want to build a natural gas pipeline along the route, it would be subject to new and separate hearings.

Last fall there were reports in the media that Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel (who is now about to retire) wanted to join the natural gas rush to the Pacific coast by adding a natural gas pipeline to the Northern Gateway bitumen project (there was also some speculation that Enbridge might want to replace the bitumen pipeline with a natural gas pipeline).

One of the JRP intervenors, Dr. Josette Weir of Smithers filed a motion in December with the JRP asking that the Joint Review Panel:

a. order Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership (“NGPLP”) to confirm if it plans a gas pipeline in the same right-of-way as the tar sands and condensate proposed pipelines;
b. order NGPLP to confirm if such gas pipeline is planned to be constructed during the same time as the two proposed pipelines under review;

Weir also asked the JRP to include possible plans for a gas pipeline in its overall assessment of the cumulative affects of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

In response to the motion, Ken MacDonald Vice President, Law and Regulatory Northern Gateway Pipelines Limited Partnership replied that Gateway confirms that it is not currently proposing to construct a gas pipeline in the right-of-way that would be required for the construction of the Northern Gateway Project and, making a legal point, called an Enbridge natural gas pipeline along the same route as “hypothetical.”

However, the next sentence in MacDonald’s letter could be a problem for the existing Pacific Trails Pipelines plans for their own natural gas pipeline, which some in the region fear is paving the way for the Northern Gateway pipeline. The letter reads: “Northern Gateway
has been attempting to engage the proponents of the Pacific Trails Pipeline for an extended
period of time regarding collaboration on routing, construction and access management, and will
continue to do so in the future.”

Last fall, members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation blockaded an Apache/Pacific Trails Pipeline survey crew and one reason for the blockade was the possible use of the Pacific Trail survey for the Northern Gateway. PTP and Apache, both in a report to the BC Environmental Assessment Office, and at a public meeting in Terrace on Thursday, March 1, say they continue to consult with the Wet’suwet’en houses and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en on the issue.

MacDonald’s letter to the JRP goes on to complain about the time it is taking for the review process

The project inclusion list for the Northern Gateway cumulative effects assessment was determined at the time of finalizing the Terms of Reference established for the Project’s environmental assessment. This was more than 2-years ago. Northern Gateway’s Application has been under review for over a year and a half with the information request phase of the proceeding on the Application having been completed. It would be impossible to ever complete an environmental assessment for a major project if the project proponent had to continually update its cumulative effects assessment for projects announced during the course of the review
proceedings on regulatory applications. In the case of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, it may end up taking four years to complete the regulatory approvals process. During such an extended period of time, new projects will inevitably be planned and announced. Northern Gateway cannot be expected to revise its cumulative effects assessment to take into account projects announced during the course of the current regulatory review.

Enbridge pointed to earlier legal rulings on “hypothetical projects”

with respect to other projects to consider in a cumulative environmental effects assessment, the NEB has ruled in the past that the other projects considered in a cumulative effects assessment cannot be hypothetical. The Courts have said that the decisions of RAs are not required to “consider fanciful projects by imagined parties producing purely hypothetical effects”. The Board is of the view that EBPC’s methods for identifying other projects for consideration in the cumulative effects assessment were appropriate.
Northern Gateway submits that, at this point, any natural gas pipelines beyond the Pacific Trails Pipeline are hypothetical. Requiring Northern Gateway to include such hypothetical projects in its cumulative environmental impact assessment would be inconsistent with previous practice and NEB decisions and would result in further delay to what has already become a protracted regulatory process.

The Joint Review Panel agreed, ruling

The Panel acknowledges the media statements by Enbridge that you noted in your motion. However, based on Northern Gateway’s comments and the fact that the Panel has no other evidence to indicate that such a project is in sufficient planning stages to warrant inclusion within Northern Gateway’s cumulative effects assessment, the Panel is of the view that it would not be appropriate to order Northern Gateway to do so. Further, the Panel notes that should Northern Gateway or any other proponent propose a gas pipeline to the west coast in the future,
that project would be subject at that time to the relevant environmental assessment and regulatory requirements.

Panel Commission Ruling on Enbridge natural gas pipeline

Northern Gateway Pipelines response to motion

More pipeline debate coming to the Northwest: Changes to the Pacific Trails natural gas Pipeline

Pacific Trail Pipelines map
The Pacific Trails Pipeline map as of Feb. 2012. (PTP/BCEAO)

Another pipeline debate is about to open in the northwest. This time for  changes to the Pacific Trails (natural gas) Pipeline, that will run from Summit Lake, just outside Prince George, to Kitimat.

Public information meetings will be held in Terrace, Houston, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof in the next couple of weeks.

The PTP runs entirely within British Columbia, and so comes under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Assessment Office of  British Columbia.   The application to build the PTP was filed in 2005 and approved in 2008 which means the process for the amendments will go much faster than the current Northern Gateway Joint Review hearings for the Enbridge twin bitumen/condenseate pipeline which are expected to last at least another eighteen months.

Pacific Trails is asking to

  • Change the location of the compressor station;
  • Establish two new temporary stockpile sites;
  • Make pipeline route modifications

The period for commenting on the Pacific Trails Pipeline amendments opens on February 27 and closes March 28. The public meeting on the changes to the compressor station were held in Summit Lake last September.

The documents filed with the BCEAO say that Pacific Trails Pipelines is in ongoing negotiations with First Nations where the PTP will cross their traditional territory.

The natural gas project has general support in northwestern  BC, and the relations between First Nations and PTP, and Apache, the main backer of the Kitimat LNG project are much better than those with Enbridge. (The PTP would supply the liquified natural gas terminals in Kitimat)

Significantly, the documents show that the PTP is trying to enter separate negotiations with the Wet’suwet’en houses that are now objecting to the pipeline route through their traditional territory.

The filing says:

In addition, PTP is now consulting, or making all reasonable efforts to consult, with one of the 13 Wet’suwet’en Houses as a discrete entity. PTP was informed in February 2011 that Chief  Knedebeas’s House, the Dark House, was no longer part of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en  although the latter still maintains responsibility for the welfare of all Wet’suwet’en lands and  resources. Consultation that took place prior to this year with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en included consultation with the Dark House. PTP has been diligent in seeking to consult with  the Dark House since April 2011. The spokesperson for Chief Knedebeas of the Dark House, Freda Huson, states that she also represents a group called Unist’ot’en.



But it’s Enbridge that is the sticking point, and could bring controversy to this amendment request.  The Wet’suwet’en houses that blockaded a PTP survey crew last fall said they were worried that the Northern Gateway pipeline follows roughly the same route as the PTP. The PTP application was filed and approved long before the controversy over the Enbridge Northern Gateway began to heat up.

One reason is that original approval was for a pipeline to import natural gas before the shale gas boom changed the energy industry.  As PTP says in the application to change the compressor station.

When the original purpose of the PTP Project was to transport natural gas from an LNG import facility at Kitimat to the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline facilities at Summit Lake, the design called for the installation of a mid-point compressor station to enable the required throughput of natural gas. This compressor station was sited at the hydraulic mid-point of the pipeline. The location of the compressor station in 2007 was south of Burns Lake and just east of Highway 35.

Now that the PTP Project is designed to move natural gas from Summit Lake to Kitimat, or east to west, a compressor station is required at Summit Lake rather than at the hydraulic mid-point of the pipeline. The new Summit Lake compressor station is required in order to increase the pressure of the natural gas from where it is sourced at the Spectra Energy Transmission pipeline facilities.

The EAO will hold open house meetings on the pipeline route changes from 4 pm to  8 pm at each location at

Monday, February 27, 2012
Nechako Senior Friendship Centre, 219
Victoria Street East
Vanderhoof, BC

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Island Gospel Gymnasium
810 Highway #35
Burns Lake, BC

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Houston Senior Centre
3250 – 14th Street W
Houston, BC

Thursday, March 1, 2012
Best Western Plus Terrace Inn
4553 Greig Avenue
Terrace, BC

The EAO says: Displays containing information on the proposed amendments will be available for public viewing. The EAO will be available to answer questions on the amendment process. The Proponent will be available to answer questions on the Project and proposed amendments.

The documents show there are route changes to the pipeline route along the Kitimat River, but those are considered “minor route adjustments” so no meetings are planned for Kitimat.


PTP meeting schedule

Complete filing documents from PTP are available on the BCEAO site here.

Pacific Trails Pipeline

Ecojustice challenges fairness of JRP, PMO responds with another attack on “foreign radicals”

Just who is interfering with the fairness of the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel hearings?

Almost every day since the hearings began in Kitamaat Village, intervenors have raised questions about the fairness of the hearings, especially after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver began attacking what they called “foreign radicals,” the government say are “hijacking” the hearings.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the hearings, so far, came in Smithers, on January 16, 2012 (without the national media present) when the leaders of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation brought up the question of political interference in the hearings.

Chief Alphonse Gagnon, of the Laksamshu clan, summed it up this way.

Before this Panel started, we had Prime Minister Harper make a comment about how he agreed with this proposed pipeline and also the Minister in charge agreeing with the pipeline.

The Minister in charge talked about the effects if the pipeline don’t go through, the financial effects on the government and the financial effects on industry itself, on jobs that would be created.

This is the stuff that happened just before we got into this. This is the stuff that was coming onto the news last week.

Now, that’s them talking about the fact that this — what will happen if the pipeline don’t go through. My question is the other way around; what will happen if the pipeline goes through?

The same day, Chief George Williams of the Tsayu clan, said to the Joint Review panel:

Wakoos; somebody should tell Stephen Harper of what wakoos meant.
Wakoos means respect. It is our job, Tsayu, Laksilyu, Gilseyhu, Laksamshu, to
protect our territories. Our language, our culture comes from the territories. Harper should show wakoos, respect, and come to our territory and put on a feast and let us know what his plans are.

The first day of the hearings weren’t as dramatic, but on that day, on the first morning, Haisla chief Henry Amos said:

I have nothing against the Panel but I’m concerned. I’m concerned about the decision making of this project; that Ms. [Sheila] Leggett and Mr. [Kenneth] Bateman both work for the National Energy Board, one as a Vice-Chair and the other one as a Chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee, I believe — correct me if I’m wrong — and Mr. [Hans] Matthews, First Nation from the Eastern Province of Ontario.

When I think about it — and this is my own personal opinion — we, the Haisla are already at a disadvantage. We have no representation from the Province of British Columbia.

I realize your tasks. I also know that you’re an independent body, which is good in a way, but what bothers me the most is that you’re appointed, I think from your information it was from the Minister of Environment and the National Energy Board. You’re appointed by the Federal Government and it’s the same government
that is telling the world that this project should go ahead. That is my biggest concern.

Chair Sheila Leggett then cut off any discussion of the fairness of the hearings, as she would from then on, by saying:

Chief Amos, we’re here today to listen to your oral evidence that wouldn’t be able to be put in writing, and the example we’ve been using in the Hearing Order and the information we’ve been publishing is that it would be traditional knowledge.

So I’m hoping that your comments will be along those lines because that
is what we’re here to listen to today.

Just a few hours later, Haisla chief counsellor Ellis Ross wrapped up the first day of hearings by saying: “I came into this meeting today thinking I was going to rant and rave about the comments made by Harper and Oliver and then I found myself basically trusting you guys to assess everything we said here and take it into consideration.”

Ecojustice motion

After three weeks of hearings, on Friday, January 27, the Vancouver environmental umbrella group, Ecojustice, a coalition of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Living Oceans Society and Forest Ethics, filed a motion with the Joint Review Panel calling into question the fairness of the hearings.

The motion asks the panel to

determine if recent statements by the Prime Minister or by the Minister
of Natural Resources who is responsible for the National Energy Board constitute an
attempt by those Ministers to undermine or have had the effect of undermining the
Panel hearing process or the credibility of any intervenor or any person appearing
before the Panel resulting in unfairness in the hearing process, and if so, that the Panel identify the steps it will take to correct such unfairness.

It also calls on the panel to

determine if recent statements by the Prime Minister or by the Minister
of Natural Resources have contributed to an appearance that the outcome of the Panel’s proceedings has been predetermined, undermining the Parties’ and public confidence in the independence of the Panel.

It wants the panel to issue a statement confirming that is independent of and not influenced by statements of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources or other Ministers of the Crown.

As well, Ecojustice wants the panel

to confirm that the credibility of Parties and witnesses will be tested only through information requests and cross examination and will not be influenced by statements of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources or other Ministers of the Crown.

It calls on the panel to confirm

that the Panel will be guided only by the principles of environmental
assessment and the requirements of the National Energy Board Act and the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Ecojustice also wants the panel to hold hearings with witnesses to determine whether or not the hearings are fair.

Joint Review Panel spokeswoman Annie Roy told the media that Ecojustice motion will be considered and ruled on “at a later date.” Roy’s e-mail to the media also said:
“The joint review panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is an independent body that was established jointly by the federal minister of the environment and the chairman of the National Energy Board.”

PMO response

Within hours of the Ecojustice filing, the Prime Minister’s Office issued an “InfoAlert,” saying that it was Ecojustice who was interfering with the fairness of the Joint Review Hearings

Foreign radicals threaten further delays

Today, Ecojustice attacked the independence of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel.  ForestEthics, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation joined them in their attack on the Joint Review Panel.

Here are the facts:

The Northern Gateway is currently going through a careful and comprehensive review process to ensure the proposal is safe and environmentally sound.

Radical groups are trying to clog and hijack the process, rather than letting the panel do its job independently, expeditiously, and efficiently.

Our government has asked that the review process be conducted efficiently and without excessive delays.  We believe reviews for major projects can be accomplished in a quicker and more streamlined fashion.

We do not want projects that are safe, generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets to die in the approval phase due to unnecessary delays.

Our Government’s top priority remains the economy and creating jobs.

Canada is on the edge of a historic choice – to diversify our energy markets away from our traditional trading partner in the United States or to continue with the status quo.

The one problem with the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office is that it appears to confirm the fears about the fairness of the hearings. That’s because the PMO release pre-judges the hearings, which are will be ongoing for a year or more by saying that the Northern Gateway is one of the “projects that are safe, [will] generate thousands of new jobs and open up new export markets.”

It is the Joint Review Panel’s decision whether or not the pipeline is safe, and will generate thousands of jobs. It is the Joint Review Panel’s task to decide whether or not the Northern Gateway pipeline is in the national interest.

In its news release, Ecojustice says

The proposed pipeline project is one of the most significant, and controversial, public interest issues in recent memory. The decision around whether or not to build this pipeline is going to affect our country — both the people who live here and the environment — for a long time to come…

This review process is rooted in facts and science — not politics — and it is the most comprehensive and transparent way to fairly weigh the project’s environmental consequences against its economic merits. Given the impact this project would have on our country, it’s absolutely critical that this process is objective, representative of all interests and conducted with integrity and fairness.
This isn’t just an ethical issue – it’s about the principles of fairness and due process.
We filed this motion because Ecojustice believes those participating in the process — and all Canadians — need to hear from the JRP that its process has not been compromised by recent political controversy.

This month, the Prime Minister and Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver singled out “environmental and other radical groups” for threatening to “hijack” the regulatory system to achieve a “radical ideological agenda” and undermine Canada’s national economic interest.

Minister Oliver has gone so far as to say that he expects the JRP to rule in favour of the project.

The news release points specifically to documents obtained the Climate Action Network and released by Greenpeace, which includes lists of “supporters” and “adversaries” of the bitumen sands.

Adversaries list

According to Greenpeace, the March 2011 “Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy” was prepared by by federal bureaucrats to help undermine support in the European Union for cleaner fuels legislation by targetting national and European level politicians

The strategy documents says the government’s “adversaries” as Canadian NGOs and environmental organizations, Aboriginal groups, competing industries. It also singles out the media in Europe, although identification of the media is blacked out.

Most important the document lists the National Energy Board as a government ally, even though it is supposed to be,under the law, an independent quasi-judicial body.

According to the document, government allies include Shell and BP and European industry associations as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, federal government departments, Alberta, business associations and unidentified NGOs.

Controversial ally

The Oil Sands Advocacy document mentions the Royal Bank of Scotland as a supporter of the Canadian oil sands that has faced anti-oilsands protests. The Royal Bank of Scotland is currently the centre of a huge controversy in the United Kingdom over an almost one million pound bonus payment to the company CEO, Stephen Hester. Reuters reports, RBS chief’s £1 million bonus sparks anger. The conservative UK media are coming down as  hard on the bonus, Daily Telegraph, MPs may summon RBS pay chief after Hester bonus as the left-leaning Guardian, which reports Anger grows over RBS chief’s £900,000 bonus. The Guardian also exposes the fact that the Royal Bank of Scotland is spent £2.5 million in UK taxpayer’s bailout money on Washington lobbyists in Bailed-out RBS spends millions on Washington lobbyists. (Again it seems foreign interference by big corporations is different than foreign interference by NGOs and environmental groups).

Despite what the Prime Minister’s Office news release has said, so far, not one foreign radical has appeared before the Joint Review Panel to question the fairness of the hearings, rather it has been intervenors, First Nations leaders or local residents.

On the second day of the hearings at Kitamaat Village, Cheryl Brown of Douglas Channel Watch described how the small group at first paid the expenses out of its own pocket.

We paid the expenses from our own pockets and from local donations. We sent out leaflets to make sure that everyone, warning people of the looming deadline. And we sent those out to make sure that everyone in Kitimat was aware of the deadline so they could sign up to speak at the hearings.

At that time, I was very willing to pay for the printing and distribution costs, and I actually had it on my credit card intending to pay it, but I was pleasantly surprised to be reimbursed by Friends of Wild Salmon. We are truly a grass roots organization, and I don’t like the untruths that are being told to discredit groups such as ours.

Personally — personally, not speaking on behalf of Douglas Channel Watch because maybe they wouldn’t want to accept help from the Mafia; I don’t know. But personally, I would welcome any support, financial or otherwise, from any organization, any institution, any country that will help us protect our land and water from oil spills.

Unless polluted by crude oil, our productive, beautiful environment will be around long after the oil has been depleted. The Enbridge project is not worth the
risk. Please do the honourable thing and say no to this dangerous project.

In Burns Lake, on January 17, 2012, on the second day of testimony from the Wet’suwet’en, Chief Ron Austin, Laksilyu Clan, from the House of Ginehglaiyex, the House of Many Eyes,  said.

And to talk a little about the federal and the provincial government, they have to respect our title and rights. Creatures and things of our environment are also involved in our title and rights, how we maintain them.

Government has to live up to the honour of the Crown and deal in good faith. Prime Minister Harper says that it will be a Canadian process that decides whether this project goes through. He should concentrate on respecting our title and rights before any project is slated for our territories.

The Wet’suwet’ens, Nat’oot’ens, Gitxsans of this area all respect our territory, respect living things in our territories, from the smallest creature to the biggest creature.

Another excuse is energy security for Canadians is the reasoning for Harper’s allowing Gateway Project to proceed. Energy security is not enough for destroying the beautiful, pristine environment of northern British Columbia.



Each time in the hearings, when someone brings up the question of fairness, or asks whether or not the outcome has already been predetermined,  wonders if the Joint Review Panel is rigged in favour of the government, chair Sheila Leggett repeats the same words.

In Burns Lake, after the welcoming ceremony, Leggett said:

I was particularly struck with some of the opening comments. This is a tremendous opportunity of learning, certainly for this Panel, of a variety of cultural ways and one of the things that struck me was the explanation, which I appreciated, about the rattle cry and how that signifies straight talk and serious business.

The other thing that I’ve heard over the days that we’ve been in the community hearings to date is the use of the word “respect”. That word “respect” has come up at all of the community hearings that we’ve had.

I wanted to just take a moment before we get into more of the process to
talk about where we’re at at the process at this point. The purpose for the Panel being here at this point is to gather oral evidence. This is the — what we’ve — as cited as examples is the Oral Traditional Knowledge. That’s the information that we’re after at this point.

This process will unfold as we’ve outlined in some of our information and
there will be a point, later on during Final Argument, for all parties to present and bring forward their positions on the Application that’s in front of this Panel.

With the motion from Ecojustice, Leggett’s attempts to put off the continuing question of the fairness of the hearings until the final argument stage more than a year from now are facing a new and formal challenge. At some point soon, the Joint Review Panel will have to rule on whether the hearings themselves are fair and respect Canadians. If the panel doesn’t rule expeditiously, there will likely be a court challenge.

The bigger question is whether or not Stephen Harper and Joe Oliver, as Chief Williams asked, have wakoos, respect, not just respect for the First Nations of British Columbia, but respect for Canadian democracy.


EcoJustice Motion before JRP on fairness (pdf)

ATIP_Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy (pdf)