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Woodfibre granted 40-year export licence by NEB

The export licence still has to be approved by the Governor in Council

The National Energy Board (NEB) has granted a 40-year export licence to Woodfibre LNG, it was announced Thursday.

"We have determined that the quantity of natural gas proposed to be exported by Woodfibre, for a term of 40 years, is surplus to Canadian needs," reads the NEB decision.  "The Board is satisfied that the natural gas resource base in Canada, as well as North America overall, is large and can accommodate reasonably foreseeable Canadian demand, including the exports proposed in this application, and a plausible potential increase in demand."

The export licence, which still has to be signed off on by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, allows Woodfibre LNG a maximum of 3.34 billion cubic metres of natural gas to be exported per year.  (That is equivalent to up to 1.3 million Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of natural gas per year.)

The 40-year clock starts ticking on the licence on the date of Woodfibre LNG’s first export.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman said she was not surprised the NEB granted the licence, because the decision is based on Canada's ability to meet national needs versus exports, but she told The Chief the 40-year licence leads to questions about the provincial environmental assessment process.

“In particular, we would like to understand how the longer term and increased export could affect the many issues raised in the Environmental Assessment process, the number of ships entering Howe Sound in any given year, and any residual effects of an increase in export volume. As this continues to be a controversial proposal for Squamish, we continue to maintain high expectations regarding community and environmental safety,” she said.

Woodfibre LNG received its 25-year licence to export approximately 2.1 million tonnes of LNG per year in December 2013, but amendments to the National Energy Board Act Part VI Regulations in 2015 increased the maximum term to 40 years. 

"All of the commitments Woodfibre LNG Limited made in its environmental assessment certificate application, and the regulatory conditions, plans and permits required for construction and operation of the Woodfibre LNG Project will remain in effect for the life of the project," read the Woodfibre news release sent out Thursday evening.

The Squamish Chief also requested a comment from My Sea to Sky, the group long opposed to the Woodfibre LNG project, but no one has been available to comment as of this posting.

We will continue to update this story as it develops. 

Read the NEB’s full decision here.