The president of Coastal GasLink said the company wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict around its 670-kilometre pipeline in northern B.C..
Speaking on a call Monday, president David Pfeiffer told reporters that while he wants to work with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who oppose the $6.6 billion pipeline, the company is “on a schedule.”
The Coastal GasLink pipeline stretches through the territory of 20 First Nations, all of whose elected chiefs have signed agreements with the company, although Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have said the company has no authority to build without their permission.
The pipeline is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and will deliver natural gas to the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat. It has received all necessary permits and Premier John Horgan has said Coastal GasLink will go ahead. Just after Pfeiffer spoke, the province announced that former Skeena—Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen was appointed as a liaison between the province and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Pfeiffer said the protests along the pipeline route could begin to cause major delays.
Camp 9A, a small camp located at Morice River site, is meant to be replaced by a larger 500-person camp so that Coastal GasLink can begin serious construction work this summer.
However, the Wet’suwet’en have blocked access to the site, despite a court injunction granted by the B.C. Supreme Court on New Year’s Eve.
Pfeiffer says the company has no control about when RCMP will go in to enforce the injunction. On Jan. 13, Mounties created an “exclusion zone” at the 27-kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road. At the time, RCMP said they would allow in Wet’suwet’en hereditary and elected chiefs, governmetn officials, media, and those bringing in food or supplies for people beyond the blockade.
The route of the pipeline is not up for major changes that could carry it outside of Wet’suwet’en territory, Pfeiffer said. He said it took the company six years of work “to find a route that was both technically and commercially viable and minimized impact to the environment.”
Route changes, both major and minor, have been considered but Pfeiffer said they were technically and environmentally inferior. One route change the company and some hereditary chiefs did agree to was a minor diversion of 40 kilometres to avoid environmentally sensitive areas.
Pfeiffer on how they're hoping to progress on #CoastalGasLink: "We’re hopeful this week we’ll have opportunities to meet with the #Wetsuweten…
we’re hopeful we can sit down and work with the hereditary chiefs."@BlackPressMedia
— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) January 27, 2020
Pfeiffer said the hereditary chiefs have not responded to letters sent by Coastal GasLink thus far, although he is hoping to meet with some of them this week.
“We’re trying to send a message to the hereditary chiefs that we’d like to sit down and talk to them,” he said.
“We want to resolve this peacefully but we do have a schedule and we do have impacts if we can’t get access to that area.”
Black Press Media has reached out to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs for comment.