STATUS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT
1. Has Huu-ay-aht made a commitment to build an LNG facility on its territory?
No, we have only agreed to look at the possibility of building an LNG facility. The manner in which we will proceed will depend on the vote at the People’s Assembly in November 2014. If the vote is supportive of continuing to explore this opportunity, further investigation into the potential social, economic, environmental and political effects of the proposed Project will continue over the next 4 years. There is not enough information available for anyone to make a decision on the proposed Project until all the required studies, including the environmental assessment, are complete. These studies will not be undertaken unless there is a “yes” vote confirming that citizens want to continue exploring this opportunity to understand what this could look like for Huu-ay-aht. This vote will be happening at the People’s Assembly in November.
2. What is the timeline for the proposed Project?
Since we are still in the early stages, it is difficult to know the exact timing for the proposed Project, but there would be an estimated eight years before the LNG facility would become operational if the proposed Project goes ahead. The proposed Project is currently in Stage 1. Steelhead LNG is conducting a preliminary environmental and technical assessment to better understand if Sarita Bay is well-suited for an LNG facility. Stage 2 is called Feasibility, where Steelhead LNG and Huu-ay-aht would conduct more detailed studies and project planning, such as determining financing. The proposed Project would also have to go through an environmental assessment. After that in Stage 3 we would move into further design phases before making a final investment decision in Stage 4 on whether there is enough investment dollars to move forward with the proposed Project. These studies would take approximately four years to complete before a decision to move forward into construction is made. Construction is estimated to take an additional four years following that. An LNG facility might be operational for a period of 30 years or longer.
IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT
3. What is LNG and what happens at an LNG facility?
Natural gas isn’t a gas liquid like gasoline, it is a gas like air. In order to become a liquid, it has to be chilled down to -162 degrees Celsius. LNG facilities (like the one proposed for Sarita Bay) are like giant refrigerators. When natural gas arrives at the LNG facility as a gas, the first step is to purify the gas by removing impurities such as water, carbon dioxide and other materials. The facility then liquefies the natural gas by chilling it down to -162 degrees Celsius, turning it into LNG. LNG is not kept under pressure. LNG is colourless, odorless, non-corrosive, non-toxic, non-flammable and non-explosive. By turning the gas into a cold liquid, it takes up 600 times less space, making it easier and safer to store and to ship. That means you can take the amount of natural gas that would fill 600 ships, and by turning it into LNG, you can send it anywhere in just one ship.
4. How would the proposed Project impact our Traditional Land Use?
We have heard from Huu-ay-aht citizens that traditional uses for this land include cultural practices, hunting, gathering and fishing and we recognize that protecting these uses is a top priority among citizens. For this reason, traditional use and archaeological studies would be key considerations in developing the project design and to ensure that past and on-going traditional uses in the area are respected to the highest degree possible and that potential effects of the proposed Project on Huu-ay-aht citizens, lands and resources are understood. If the proposed Project moves forward, additional studies would be completed to supplement the previous information and work. The proposed Project is in its earliest stages and Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead LNG will look at these values and how we can be protected.
5. How will the proposed Project effect Santa Maria Island?
Santa Maria Island is an excellent example of the benefit of having the Huu-ay-aht involved at an early stage in the proposed project. The cultural sensitivity of Santa Maria Island was communicated to Steelhead LNG in initial discussions and as a result, there are no plans to impact the island in the design of the proposed Project.
6. How will we ensure that Huu-ay-ahts treaty rights and aboriginal interests are protected in the proposed Project?
It is still early, but it is important to everyone involved that the treaty rights and aboriginal interests of Huu-ay-aht citizens are understood, considered in the project planning, and protected. Many studies, including environmental and traditional use studies, would be conducted to understand potential impacts of the proposed Project on Huu-ay-aht treaty rights and aboriginal interests. It is important to note that the proposed Project is in the very early stages, but both Huu-ay-aht and Steelhead LNG are very interested and focused on protecting treaty rights and aboriginal interests.
7. How will we ensure that the short and long term impacts of the proposed LNG facility on lands and environment in Sarita Bay are minimized?
It is vital that any project on our land must uphold our principles of ʔIsaak (highest respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and Hišuk čawak (everything is one/connected). This is recognized by both Huu-ay-aht First Nations government and by Steelhead LNG. It is because of our mutual recognition of these principles that the Nation entered into a partnership with Steelhead LNG. These three values are included in the shared HFN-Steelhead Project goals and guide day-to-day decision making. In order to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account, the proposed Project will undertake a rigorous environmental assessment process led by the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and possibly the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) to assess any potential effects of the proposed Project on the environment as well as our treaty rights and aboriginal interests. Huu-ay-aht First Nations has always said that we wish to meet or exceed existing environmental standards to protect our precious lands and resources.
8. What are the risks associated with the proposed Project in the case of a natural disaster (like a tsunami or earthquake)?
One of the features that makes the site well-suited for an LNG facility is that it would be situated to naturally have a defense against tsunamis because of the features of the land in Sarita Bay. In addition, the environmental assessment process will include a look at the effects of natural disasters on the facility, which will be designed to withstand these scenarios. These considerations will also be factored into the facility design.
BENEFITS AND OPPORTUNITIES FROM THE PROPOSED PROJECT
9. What would the benefits of the proposed Project be for Huu-ay-aht?
The proposed Project could bring many potential benefits to Huu-ay-aht. First, it would provide an excellent source of revenue for Huu-ay-aht, in the order of millions of dollars, not only from potential participation in the business, but also from other revenue sources such as taxation and lease revenues. This income could be used to enhance a wide variety of services that are currently offered by the Nation and provide new services that we do not currently have the money to fund, such as programs promoting culture, education, health and well-being of citizens. In addition, there would be hundreds of well-paid jobs available to Huu-ay-aht citizens and others in the region at all levels of employment during both the construction phase and after the proposed Project becomes operational. Creating jobs in and around Sarita Bay, would create an opportunity for Huu-ay-aht families to return home and live in Anacla and elsewhere in our homelands.
10. What job opportunities would be available for us?
If the proposed Project is realized, there would be an increase in the demand for the usual service-based jobs, in addition to skilled jobs that our people can train for. Throughout the process of exploring the opportunity, we will hold information sessions to inform and discuss the types of jobs that would be available and the type of training required to prepare to take on those jobs. LNG-related jobs include those directly related to constructing an LNG facility, positions directly related to the operation of the facility once it’s built, as well as a host of indirect jobs that would support the construction or operation of the facility. Some examples of direct jobs include construction, engineering, skilled trades and surveying. Additionally, the proposed Project would generate hundreds of jobs and business opportunities in the hospitality, first aid, maintenance, accommodation, recreation, tourism, hospitality, transportation, catering, security and other service sectors. This includes local spin-off jobs with restaurants, schools, medical providers, grocery stores, hotels, other service providers, for example.
STEELHEAD LNG / HUU-A-YAHT FIRST NATIONS PARTNERSHIP
11. Who is Steelhead LNG?
Steelhead LNG is a BC-based LNG development company, located in Vancouver, BC. Steelhead LNG’s senior executive team has more than 160 years of combined experience working on natural gas and LNG projects, and have created and led some of the world’s largest, most successful and environmentally responsible natural gas and LNG projects. Steelhead LNG is a private company backed by KERN Partners, a Calgary-based energy sector private equity firm.
12. How did Steelhead LNG and Huu-ay-aht meet and develop their relationship?
Huu-ay-aht has an ongoing relationship with the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) as a result of the work they did together on the transshipment hub. PAPA introduced the Huu-ay-aht Executive Council to Steelhead LNG, and Steelhead LNG proposed the project. Steelhead LNG was looking for a First Nation partner with which to build an LNG facility, and the site at Sarita Bay is being explored as a potentially suitable location.
13. How do we know that we can trust Steelhead LNG?
Our Executive Council’s impression of Steelhead LNG is that they are very experienced and credible partners. Steelhead LNG understands that in order to do business in BC, they have to work with First Nations. They have demonstrated their commitment to working with Huu-ay-aht as true partners by agreeing to our major requests in the legally binding Opportunity Development Agreement (ODA) they have signed with our Nation.
14. What is the Opportunity Development Agreement (ODA)?
By signing the ODA, both the Huu-ay-aht government and Steelhead LNG have committed to exploring the idea of a developing a liquefied natural gas facility on Huu-ay-aht territory. The ODA commits us to work together, as partners from the very start. This means that members of our Executive Council meet with members of the Steelhead executive team twice a month to collectively make decisions about the direction of the project through a Project Development Panel. This is very different from “business as usual”, where companies simply inform First Nations about a project after the decisions have already been made. The ODA does not commit Huu-ay-aht or Steelhead LNG to build the proposed Project nor does it commit that Huu-ay-aht land will be used for the proposed Project. It does commit some early benefits for Huu-ay-aht such as financial contributions towards projects such as Kiix?in and an Anacla-Bamfield bike/walking path, financing for the purchase of the Sarita South lands, communications funding as well as future benefits such as salmonoid enhancement and trades and other education for Huu-ay-aht citizens.
15. How does the Huu-ay-aht government know the proposed Project is safe?
Every project comes with risks and benefits. While we know a lot of the overall risks and benefits, we do not yet know conclusively what the risks associated with or the effects the proposed Project are and if they are acceptable to our Nation. Huu-ay-aht has conducted some preliminary research suggesting that the potential risks associated with the proposed Project may be managed to our satisfaction while producing positive outcomes in the lives of our citizens. As we move forward, we will be seeking your help as citizens, as those with local and traditional knowledge about our lands and resources, and with the help of environmental experts, scientists, engineers we hope to together determine whether the proposed Project is safe enough to move forward.