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    Canadian province of Quebec rejects LNG project

Summary

Energie Saguenay LNG project "has more disadvantages than advantages," environment minister declared.

by: Dale Lunan

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Canadian province of Quebec rejects LNG project

The government of the Canadian province of Quebec has abandoned GNL Quebec’s 11mn mt/yr Energie Saguenay LNG project, environment minister Benoit Charette told a media briefing July 21.

“This project has more disadvantages than advantages,” he said, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette.

The rejection follows a report from Quebec’s environmental regulator, the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) last March which made no firm recommendations about the project. But the agency did express uncertainty about GNL Quebec’s estimates of the project’s environmental impact, including whether greenhouse gas emissions in Europe could actually be reduced by imports of LNG from Energie Saguenay.

And a lengthy, Covid-impacted public review last fall, at which more than 2,500 public submissions were filed, created a divide in public opinion which no amount of future consultation by the government could likely repair, the BAPE noted.

“The GNL Quebec team takes note of the decision of the government of Quebec not to approve the Energie Saguenay project,” the company said in a statement emailed to NGW. We are obviously disappointed and surprised with the decision and the board of directors is currently evaluating next steps to address this challenging decision which impacts our employees, investors and stakeholders.”

As Energie Saguenay was developed, the statement said, GNL Quebec continued to raise its environmental standards, with the goal of developing the “greenest and most sustainable, zero-emission LNG export terminal in the world.”

The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), an independent public policy think tank, said the government’s decision played directly into the hands of a “handful of activists” and discounted the wishes of the community hosting the project.

“Energie Saguenay would have created thousands of jobs in a region with a relatively high unemployment rate and with an average income that’s below the provincial average – there was no better location for a project of this scope,” MEI economist and director of operations Miguel Ouellette said. “In such a context, it makes you wonder whether undertaking large projects is possible at all in Quebec.”