The National Energy Board has granted Pacific NorthWest LNG a 40-year export licence.
The licence will allow the company to export a maximum 34.62 billion cubic metres of natural gas annual from its proposed terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.
The company had previously received approval for a maximum 25-year licence in March 2014, however, legislative amendments under the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act increased the maximum term to 40 years, the board said in its decision.
The new licence still needs governor-in-council approval, however, the NEB noted the gas Pacific NorthWest LNG is seeking to export is surplus to Canadian needs.
"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 natural gas exports proposed in this Application, and a plausible potential increase in demand," the decision reads.
Atlantic Pacific Spaceline Enterprise Incorporated (APSE) sought the board to delay its decision for six months to allow time to consider the quantities of gas required for all proposed LNG projects in Canada should all exports proceed.
The board rejected the recommendation, and others made by APSE, including a request to keep Pacific NorthWest's 25-year licence only, and a study of the economic viability of LNG facilities when considering export applications.
"The Board considers that the applications approved by the Board to date represent a significant volume of LNG exports from Canada. However, all of these LNG ventures are competing for a limited global market and face numerous development and construction challenges," the decision reads.
"Accordingly, the Board is of the view that not all LNG export licences issued by the Board will be used or used to the full allowance."
Rich Coleman, B.C.'s natural gas minister, said the licence extension gives momentum to the project.
"Export approvals from Canada's National Energy Board are essential, providing proponents with the assurance they need to secure customer contracts and, ultimately, reach a final investment decision," he said in a statement.
"This extension immediately improves Pacific NorthWest LNG's long-term certainty and strengthens its competitive positioning in the global market."