Brett Bundale, Chronicle Herald, March 7, 2014
$8b facility planned for Goldboro
A proposed multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project slated for rural Nova Scotia has jumped another hurdle.
In its report issued Friday, a provincial environmental review panel said the risks of Pieridae Energy Canada Ltd.’s planned $8-billion Guysborough County facility could be mitigated while its contribution to the local economy would be extremely significant.
“The panel recommends that the project be approved with conditions,” the three-member panel, chaired by Tony Blouin, said in its 73-page report.
The panel examined a number of environmental and socio-economic factors, including the effects on groundwater, air quality and terrestrial habitat and made 51 recommendations to mitigate the project’s potential environmental impact.
Environment Minister Randy Delorey is expected to make a final decision on the fate of the Goldboro project by March 24.
Mark Brown, Pieridae’s director of project development, said finishing the environmental review is an important step in the process.
“Getting the environmental assessment completed is a critical part of the project but we really have to respect the process and wait until we receive and review the minister of environment’s decision,” he said.
The Goldboro project includes an LNG facility, a 180-megawatt gas-fired power plant, a pipeline for potable water from a nearby lake and a marine wharf and jetty.
Brown said if the minister approves the project, Pieridae would begin front-end engineering and design work right away, which would take about a year.
The final investment decision on the project would then be expected in the second quarter of 2015, followed by a 48-month construction schedule.
“We’d look to be in service in the fourth-quarter of 2019,” Brown said, adding that the project would provide up to 3,500 construction jobs — 1,500 of which would be on-site — and 200 permanent jobs.
Catherine Abreu, energy co-ordinator for the Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, said the project goes against the province’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“This project would involve an 18 per cent increase in provincial emissions by 2020,” she said.
“Given the province’s targeted goal of reducing emissions to 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, this project should just be dismissed outright.”
In addition, Abreu said one-third of the LNG facility’s natural gas supply is slated to come from onshore projects in the Maritimes.
“That’s irresponsible, given the level of opposition we see to onshore natural gas development in this region,” she said, adding that exporting natural gas supplies could drive up prices for the hydrocarbon here.
The panel said in its review that Guysborough County has suffered a steady decrease in population over the past several decades, as well as a shift in demographics toward an aging population.
“The area is lacking in significant economic inputs, which has resulted in the area underperforming the provincial average in a number of economic categories,” the panel said in its report.
“The project would bring significant economic benefits to an area of Nova Scotia that has, for a long time, suffered from a lack of economic inputs. These benefits would also reverberate throughout the province, and result in significant economic spinoffs.”