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Canada approves four LNG export licenses off West Coast

Canada's minister of natural resources on Wednesday gave final approval to four liquefied natural gas export licenses, all for projects proposed along the British Columbia coast.

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The four facilities--Pacific Northwest LNG, Prince Rupert LNG, WCC LNG and Woodfibre LNG--were previously approved by Canada's National Energy Board in December 2013.

The licenses cover the export of up to 73.38 million mt/year of LNG, or about 3.43 Tcf/year.

Woodfibre LNG, proposed by Pacific Oil & Gas, would export up to 2.1 million mt/year from its facility in Squamish, with an in-service date of late 2016. The project is still undergoing an environmental assessment at the provincial level.

Pacific Northwest, proposed by a consortium of Petronas' Progress Energy Canada, Japex, and Petroleum/BRUNEI, would export 19.68 million mt/year from a site on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, with an in-service target of late 2018. It is still undergoing provincial and federal environmental assessments.

WCC LNG is proposed by ExxonMobil Canada and Imperial Oil Resources, with a plan to export 30 million mt/year from a site yet to be chosen in the vicinity of Kitimat and Prince Rupert. Pending final approvals, the project is planned to be online sometime in 2021-2023.

Prince Rupert LNG is a project of BG Group proposed for Ridley Island near Prince Rupert, with exports of 21.6 million mt/year once operations begin in 2021. Provincial and federal environmental assessments for the project are underway.

When announcing the approvals, the natural resources ministry said that lucrative Asian markets can be reached by tanker in as little as 11 days from Canada's West Coast, "about a month faster than a tanker leaving from the Gulf of Mexico," according to a statement. On Monday, Jordan Cove Energy became the first LNG project on the US West Coast to get approval from the US Department of Energy for exports to countries without a free trade agreement. Previous approvals from the DOE have been for facilities on the US East and Gulf Coast.

Jordan Cove is also next in line for approval by the Canadian natural resources ministry, as the company plans to import gas from Canada for liquefaction and export. The NEB gave its nod to those exports to Jordan Cove last month.

"World energy demand is on the rise, and Canada has the unprecedented energy supply to meet that demand," said Greg Rickford, Canada's minister of natural resources. "The approval of these licenses is a major step forward in opening the door for Canada's natural gas industry to access world markets."

--Stephanie Seay,
--Edited by Lisa Miller,