US & Canada

Canada approves giant LNG project on British Columbia coast

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech at Canada House in central London, 25 November 2015 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The huge energy project is the first to be announced under Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Canada has authorised the construction of an energy project that would see its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported to emerging Asian markets.

The move comes despite concerns over the project's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the threat to an important salmon habitat.

The terminal, which will cost CA$11.4bn ($8.6bn/£6.6bn), will be built on British Columbia's northern coast.

It is one of the largest resource development initiatives in the country.

The federal government said it was granting permission to the Pacific Northwest LNG project to be built on Lelu Island, which sits at the mouth of the Skeena river near Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

The project will see the construction of a natural gas liquefaction and export terminal in Canada's westernmost province.

At a news conference on Tuesday, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the project was approved following a rigorous review and comes with numerous conditions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company leading the project, estimates it would contribute CA$2.9 billion annually to the country's GDP.

The project, which has taken nearly three years to receive regulatory approval, is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first major energy decision since he was elected just under a year ago.

The natural resources file is a difficult one for Mr Trudeau, who was elected on a pro-environment platform and a promise to tackle climate change.

Karen Mahon, with environmental group Stand.Earth, said in a statement on Tuesday that "the government cannot make decisions like this while honouring their promises on climate change".

Petronas and the project's other shareholders will look at the final report and its conditions, as well as the overall LNG market outlook, before making a final decision.

A global supply glut of liquefied natural gas has driven down prices and investment in fledgling LNG projects in North America.

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