Major investor pulls out of Quebec pipeline project, citing rail blockades
Pipes at a natural gas plant near Fort St. John, B.C., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
MONTREAL -- A major investor has pulled out of a major Quebec natural gas pipeline project, with the company behind the project saying it was due to "challenges in the Canadian political landscape."
GNL Quebec, the company behind the Energie Saguenay Project, confirmed the investor’s withdrawal on Thursday but declined to identify them. Several media reports have indicated the investor as Berkshire Hathaway, the investment firm helmed by Warren Buffett.
A spokesperson for GNL Quebec said they could not say how much money the investor was going to put into the project but that they expect to find a replacement. They noted there are 15 other investors who have been in the project since the beginning and a final decision on financing won’t be made until the end of 2021.
When pressed, the spokesperson said rail blockades in opposition to a natural gas pipeline through traditional Indigenous land in British Columbia played a role in the investor's decision.
Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse, who has criticized the environmental impact of the project, called it "doomed to failure" in a statement.
"If the Energie Saguenay gas pipeline project was so good for the environment and so profitable, investors would step up to put their money into it," she said. "It is a risky investment and the only way this project will pay off under current conditions is with government money, our money. It's not the government's job to fund lame ducks... in the end, it's an industry that will die."
A spokesperson for Chicoutimi MP Richard Martel-Le Fjord criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's handling of the blockade, saying Quebecers "risk losing out on a $4 billion energy project that would have brought jobs and opportunities to the Saguenay region."
"Over the last month, a clear signal has been sent to businesses across Canada that the rule of law will not be upheld and that major projects cannot get built. Yves-François Blanchet’s Bloc Quebecois are equally responsible for this potential loss of opportunity, as they continue to support Justin Trudeau’s government.”
According to the Energie Saguenay website, the project was conceived in 2014 and involves the construction of a natural gas liquefaction plant at Port Saguenay, which would ultimately export 11 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year.
The project comes with an estimated price tag of $9 billion with operations scheduled to begin in 2025.
On Feb. 23 the CEO of mining firm Teck announced the company was withdrawing from an Alberta mining project. Premier Jason Kenney blamed for the withdrawal, saying it was caused by inaction on the rail blockades.