An idea worth considering?

Readers will recall that in last month’s two-part look at the burgeoning interest in LNG, I mentioned the $1 billion deal between Progress Energy, owner of shale properties in the North Montney, and Petronas, the Malaysian LNG giant.

Readers will recall that in last month’s two-part look at the burgeoning interest in LNG, I mentioned the $1 billion deal between Progress Energy, owner of shale properties in the North Montney, and Petronas, the Malaysian LNG giant.

And part of that deal was to investigate options for LNG exports via a West Coast plant.

Shortly thereafter Progress’ chief executive Michael Culbert told reporters that the provincial and federal governments, given the number of proposed pipelines and LNG plants, should look at combining regulatory processes.

Reuters reported him as saying, “This can be a well-orchestrated process where we benefit from using the right-of-way once. If construction is all done at the same time, at least you’re going down the same right-of-way.”

Given the wheels of the regulatory process grind exceedingly slow, the prospect that a consolidated environmental assessment of all proposed pipelines might speed things up clearly makes sense to those companies looking at shipping natural gas to West Coast (read Kitimat) LNG plants.

But it might also appeal to some environmentalists.

Enviro-groups have often complained that environmental assessments look at the impacts of a single project but do not examine the cumulative impact of several like projects within a given area.

That complaint has been loudest when it comes to run-of-river power development which can see a dozen or more “individual” projects being constructed within a single watershed.

Given Culbert’s idea would address that issue, I would expect the enviros to be on board.

The consolidation concept is something that the National Energy Board might also consider when it comes to permits to export natural gas in the form of LNG.

More on that next week.