Dean Allen has been closely watching the progression of TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project (PRGT) over the last two years. Allen is the President of Summit Camps, a Smithers B.C.-based company that builds and operates work camps in remote locations. He and his First Nations partners are working through the TransCanada vendor process in hopes that Summit will be selected to operate several work camps, each housing up to 800 workers that will be needed to build the PRGT pipeline.
“The logistics of these camps, where the majority of workers move from one to the other as the project is built, are enormous but we have been working hard on this and if we get selected, we are ready to go any time,” said Allen.
“A lot of businesses have invested in anticipation of a positive Final Investment Decision so that they are ready to participate in a meaningful way on these projects. The local business community is very excited,” Dean Allen, President of Summit Camps
“When you count the people who build the camp and operate it, the cooks, the cleaners, the trades and maintenance people – a lot of them First Nations workers – we are talking up to 200 people being employed at each camp through its cycle. It’s going to be a big challenge but we have been doing this for a long time and we are very good at it.”
Allen was delighted when PRGT, the first major piece in British Columbia’s emerging LNG industry, moved to what could be just months away from getting started when it was awarded its final construction and facility permits by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC). The 900 kilometre, 48-inch natural gas pipeline would carry natural gas from a point near Hudson’s Hope in northeast B.C. to a planned LNG facility in the District of Port Edward, south of Prince Rupert.
“This is very good news, not just for us, but for business in northern B.C.,” said Allen. “This project has the potential to bring hundreds of millions of dollars through Smithers and northern B.C., and as much as three or four years of work for thousands of people. We are really looking forward to it.”
Extensive community engagement
Tony Palmer, president, PRGT, says getting all of the regulatory permits for such a project “is a rigorous, detailed and thorough process involving a number of B.C. regulatory bodies.”
“It’s been an extensive process involving broad engagement with First Nations, communities, landowners and other interested groups. Much work has gone into ensuring that all of the regulatory requirements were completed,” Palmer added.
“For my company, this represents a year of work and with mining and forestry both down, if you put food on the table for a dozen families for a year, that’s accomplishing something,” Ray Carrier, President of Coastal Construction Aggregates Inc.
Before construction can start, PRGT’s customer, Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG must receive a positive decision from the federal government under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which is expected later this year. Once approval is received, and PNW LNG has confirmed its decision to proceed with the project, PRGT will begin site preparation for camp locations and right-of-way clearing, with commencement of pipeline construction activities shortly thereafter.
Years of planning is just the beginning
Project planning began in early 2013 – almost three years ago – culminating in the submission of an 8,500-page report to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, which issued their permit for the project last November of 2014. Complementary to that were applications to the BCOGC for 11 construction and facility permits, which were granted in October, almost a year later.
The issuance of the construction permits and the environmental certificate are important steps for the project, but that’s not the end of the process.
“We continue to work with First Nations along the route to secure project more agreements, which will provide them with significant financial benefits while addressing their cultural and environmental interests,” said Palmer.
Project has received wide support
Letters of support have come from the District of Port Edward, the cities of Terrace and Dawson Creek and the District of Mackenzie, as well as the Chambers of Commerce in Fort St. John, Prince George, Mackenzie and Smithers. Plus, we have signed supportive project agreements with eight First Nations, whose traditional territories cover much of the pipeline route.
“A lot of businesses have invested in anticipation of a positive Final Investment Decision so that they are ready to participate in a meaningful way on these projects. The local business community is very excited,” said Allen.
Ray Carrier agrees. He is the President of Coastal Construction Aggregates Inc., a mining and construction company based in Smithers. Ray hopes his company will be selected to provide material for the 110 kilometre underwater leg of the project, which would enable his company to triple its employee base from four employees to 12 or more staff.
“For my company, this represents a year of work and with mining and forestry both down, if you put food on the table for a dozen families for a year, that’s accomplishing something,” said Carrier. “We are getting to what could be some very exciting times.
“Our customer takes a long-term view of the market for LNG and is fully supportive of the project proceeding. We look forward to being the flagship project that signals the start of the province’s new LNG industry,” said Palmer.
Project will provide significant benefits to B.C.
The PRGT project will provide significant economic benefits throughout B.C. that will support local services through taxation, and contribute to local spending before and during construction. Overall benefits include:
- Thousands of short-term jobs directed at B.C. residents;
- Opportunities for local and Aboriginal businesses;
- Millions of dollars in annual taxes to help support local services such as schools, policing, fire protection, and waste management;
- Billions of dollars in new investments for the province.
“I think if businesses want to participate in the construction of these projects that TransCanada is doing its best to ensure that local companies can participate,” said Allan Stroet, economic development officer, Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association. “That was one of the big fears that the little guy would be left out but it looks like TransCanada is doing its best to include everyone who wants to be included.”
Ensuring that all local communities near TransCanada projects have an opportunity to participate and share in the economic benefits that these projects bring has been important to the company.
This is especially true for First Nations communities.
TransCanada’s Aboriginal Relations Policy was adopted long before engagement with Indigenous communities became a regulator requirement. Our policies embody TransCanada’s values and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility.