Canadian aboriginal group rejects deal to back Petronas LNG project

Wed May 13, 2015 11:44am EDT
 
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Canadian aboriginal group has rejected an offer of about C$1 billion ($836 million) in return for supporting a liquefied natural gas export terminal led by Malaysian national oil company Petronas [PETR.UL], community leaders said on Wednesday.

Members of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation band, which has traditional territories around the proposed site of the Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal in northern British Columbia, rejected the 40-year benefit deal in a series of three votes held over the past week.

The rejection does not mean the project cannot go ahead, but it could pose a challenge for Petronas, which is looking to smooth relations with aboriginal groups as it moves toward a final investment decision on the $11 billion project.

It would be "unfortunate" if Petronas tried to proceed without the consent of the Lax Kw'alaams, Garry Reece, mayor of Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, said in a statement.

First Nations is a term used to describe aboriginal people in Canada who are not Inuit or Metis

Petronas, in response, pledged to continue to work "co-operatively with the area First Nations to identify concerns and find innovative solutions as we move forward."

Opponents of the project, including the Lax Kw'alaams, say it poses a threat to a salmon habitat in the Flora Bank, which is next to the terminal site on Lelu Island.

"Lax Kw'alaams is open to business ... It is not open to development proximate to Flora Bank," said Reece.   Continued...