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B.C. First Nations group rejects $1-billion offer from LNG venture

Caption info: An artistic rendering of Pacific NorthWest LNG‘s proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert in northwestern British Columbia.

Pacific NorthWest LNG

In the second stage of three votes, members of a B.C. First Nations group have again unanimously rejected a $1-billion offer from a liquefied natural gas project.

More than 255 eligible Lax Kw'alaams voters at a meeting Thursday night in Prince Rupert stood up to show their opposition, row upon row, two sources close to the aboriginal group said.

In the first vote in Lax Kw'alaams on Tuesday night, more than 180 eligible voters also unanimously stood up to signal their opposition to the Pacific NorthWest LNG joint venture led by Malaysia's state-owned Petronas.

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Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Garry Reece and 12 elected councillors will make the final decision on behalf of the 3,600-member band, after voting wraps up next Tuesday in Vancouver.

"We would like to thank Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Reece and council for inviting Pacific NorthWest LNG to address community members in Prince Rupert for the first time," Pacific NorthWest LNG president Michael Culbert said in a statement. "Out of respect to the ongoing process overseen by mayor and council, it is premature and improper to comment further."

Besides the offer of $1-billion in cash over 40 years from Pacific NorthWest LNG, the B.C. government is willing to transfer of 2,200 hectares of Crown land, valued at $108-million, spread over the Prince Rupert harbour area and other property near Lax Kw'alaams.

Aboriginal leaders and environmentalists see threats to salmon habitat in Flora Bank, next to the proposed export terminal on Lelu Island.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency launched its review of Pacific NorthWest LNG in April, 2013.

Pacific NorthWest LNG estimates that $36-billion will need to be spent in order to make its planned exports a reality in 2019. The huge budget includes $11.4-billion for the LNG export terminal on Lelu Island and $5-billion for TransCanada Corp.'s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission proposal.

Pacific NorthWest LNG filed its environmental impact statement in February, 2014, and the federal regulator expressed concerns to the joint venture in May that year. Catherine Ponsford, the agency's project manager for the Pacific and Yukon region, took note of what is currently the quiet setting of Lelu Island.

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"The project would convert large parts of Lelu Island, an undeveloped area of 192 hectares, into an industrial site," she wrote in a five-page letter to Michael Lambert, Pacific NorthWest LNG's head of environmental and regulatory affairs.

Petronas holds a 62-per-cent interest in Pacific NorthWest LNG. The partners are China's state-owned Sinopec, whose formal name is China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (10 per cent), India's state-run Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. (10 per cent), Japan Petroleum Exploration (10 per cent), China Huadian Corp. (5 per cent) and Petroleum Brunei (3 per cent).

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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