Despite concerns, North Montney Mainline Project approved

Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) recommended approval of the $1.7 billion North Montney Mainline Project, the latest domino to fall on the way to a final investment decision for Petronas' Pacific NorthWest LNG.

Progress Energy CEO Michael Culbert described it as “a key component” of a natural gas pipeline to the coast.

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Progress is owned by Petronas and will produce the natural gas for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project if it moves ahead.

The North Montney Mainline — to be built by Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) — will be part of a network of pipelines that transports natural gas to the West Coast, where it would be liquefied and exported. The other key part of that network is the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Line.

TransCanada, which owns NGTL, would construct the latter pipeline.

The North Montney Mainline project would commence from an area 100 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John and travel about 300 kilometres to connect to the Nova Gas Transmission System. This would feed into the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Line.

A 2013 estimate put the cost of the North Montney Mainline project at about $1.7 billion, including about $876 million of construction contracts and employment benefits.

“The majority of these we see happening in B.C,” said Blaine Trout, TransCanada’s manager of pipeline projects. “We look to meet most of that with a regional workforce, but a portion of these will opportunities will be filled from other parts of B.C. or outside of B.C.”

 The project is expected to create 2,000 to 2,500 direct jobs.

The National Energy Board, a Federal oversight body, was asked to review NGTL’s proposal.

The Federal government now has to review that recommendation, but that's usually considered a formality.

TransCanada spokesman Davis Sheremata said the pipeline project also awaits a positive final investment decision on Pacific NorthWest LNG before construction can begin. The FID is expected sometime in 2015, he said.

But the project is not without its detractors, and in what Sheremata called an “uncommon” move, a member of the panel dissented from the recommendation over concerns about how it would impact local First Nations.

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