Trudeau will be elected in 2023

Pipeline dispute jeopardizes Canada's LNG dreams

This week a Canadian court gave the go-ahead for a natural gas pipeline across aboriginal areas. The local tribes are in favor, the old clan chiefs against. The dispute threatens to escalate.

Seattle. In Canada, Justin Trudeau faces the first major challenge of his second term. In British Columbia, north of the city of Vancouver, the Canadian police have been engaged in a dispute with the local natives for weeks. The core of the dispute: the construction of a pipeline across the traditional land areas of the indigenous people.

The energy company Coastal GasLink plans to use a new gas pipeline to transport natural gas to the Kitimat LNG loading port on the west coast of Canada. The pipeline from the Montney gas fields (British Columbia) is expected to be 670 kilometers long and cost just under 6.6 billion Canadian dollars (4.52 billion euros). A consortium led by the British-Dutch oil multinational Shell is behind the project. The goal is to ship Canada's gas supplies to Asia as liquefied natural gas (LNG). Construction begins in summer, and the plan is to be finished by 2023.

The pipeline to be built runs through several areas of the traditional indigenous people of Canada, including those of the Wet'suwet'en. While the elected and official representatives of the local indigenous people speak out in favor of building the pipeline, the traditional clan chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en are resisting the project: CoastalLink and their partner companies would enter the country without permission and are requested to " to leave immediately ”. "We insist that you recognize our human rights, our indigenous rights and our sovereignty as traditional Wet'suwet'en tribal leaders," the Wet'suwet'en said in a letter to Coastal GasLink.

Courts give the green light

However, Coastal GasLink did everything right, at least according to Canada's case law. All elected tribal heads of the affected indigenous tribes, through whose land the pipeline will run, have spoken out in favor of construction and have given Coastal GasLink the green light. "We are proud of the broad support (...) and that all 20 tribes have signed contracts with us," said GasLink CEO David Pfeiffer in an open letter on Thursday. "That makes the current situation all the more frustrating."

The pipeline conflict is more than just a local political issue. Behind the pipeline is “LNG Canada” and thus a project that Trudeau gave the green light years ago. The major LNG Canada project for the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would be "Canada's largest private investment," said Trudeau when announcing the project in 2018. The total project costs of LNG Canada, which includes the Coastal GasLink pipeline, add up according to the information to just under 40 billion Canadian dollars. Liquefied gas terminals allow gas to be loaded onto container ships, but are considered a significant investment. The Kitimat terminal on the west coast of Canada would be the second LNG terminal in the North American country. (APA)

("Die Presse", print edition, February 8th, 2020)