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First Nation signs C$13M benefits deal tied to Pacific NorthWest LNG

The government of British Columbia reached an agreement totaling up to C$13.35 million with the Kitselas First Nation to share economic benefits from the Pacific NorthWest LNG export project.

Upon signing, the First Nation will receive C$1.35 million, with the remainder of the funds dependent on the project receiving a final investment decision, according to a March 30 news release. The C$36 billion export project received approval from the federal government in September 2016 but awaits a funding decision from lead developer Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas.

Funding under the agreement would be used in part to promote employment created by LNG projects and economic investment that supports LNG development activities, the release said.

"Together, we are creating jobs and new economic opportunities that will deliver important benefits to the Kitselas First Nation," Rich Coleman, the province's minister of natural gas development, said in the statement. "By diversifying our natural gas sector and shipping clean energy to Asia, government is creating a brighter future for all British Columbians and their families."

The Kitselas agreement follows a deal struck by the federal and provincial governments and the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams Band that sets up committees to oversee construction of the project. Pacific NorthWest has faced opposition from aboriginal and environmental groups, several of which have launched legal actions arguing that the federal government failed to duly consult First Nations before giving its approval.

Petronas is reportedly weighing a reroute of docking facilities from Lelu Island to nearby Ridley Island in an effort to cut costs and comply with a list of 190 conditions attached to Canada's authorization.