One Buck Flats resident met for three hours Thursday with a team of engineers, biologists and other professionals working on Apache Corporation’s $1-billion natural gas pipeline to Kitimat.
Glenda Ferris, a long-time environmental activist who lives 2.5 km north of the pipeline route, says she is mainly concerned because Apache’s is the first of four pipelines that will all take more or less the same corridor south of Houston.
“We’re going to be in pipeline construction phase for 10 to 12 years now,” she said.
“There are tourists, guide-outfitters, a whole bunch of people who should be aware of what’s going to happen here.”
But residents will have to wait a while longer before they can see exactly where Apache plans to route and build work camps along the Houston stretch of its 463-km pipeline.
Apache spokesperson Paul Wyke said those final changes have been postponed now that business concerns have pushed back the pipeline’s expected start date by about a year.
“We now have a little bit more time to study the nuts and bolts of the route with Kitimat not coming online until 2017,” Wyke said.
In its original proposal, approved by B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office in 2008, Apache looked at building work camps along the Barteaux, Clore River and Crystal Creek forest service roads.
And in Feburary, Apache said it was considering a temporary stockpile site along the Chisholm FSR.
But Wyke said it will be a while yet before the company is firm on where those sites will be.
Ferris said she has asked Apache to build its work camps and stockpiles away from high-value wildlife and fisheries areas, especially those along the Morice River and the Parrot Lakes.
“I told them if they think they’re going to put a camp over by the Morice River, I don’t think even this government is going to allow them to do that,” she said.
Ferris also asked Apache to avoid running heavy delivery trucks and support vehicles on Buck Flats Road during the pipeline construction.
Although it is certified for logging trucks, Ferris said Buck Flats is basically residential.
“Our road was never designed even for the logging traffic that’s on it,” she said. “It was an old wagon trail.”
“A couple big curves were straightened out when they put the new bridges in, but it’s not a safe road now.”
Rob Newell, electoral director for the Houston rural area at the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako says he is also concerned about roadways.
Clearing a new right-of-way and reopening several old forestry roads for the Apache project will open a relatively pristine area to more hunting, he said.
In April, a few days before the B.C. EAO approved an amendment to widen the Apache pipeline from 36 to 42 inches, the Office of the Wet’suwet’en told the agency it had outstanding concerns about the project, including some fisheries issues and the location of the Chisholm stockpile site.
Wyke says Apache continues to consult the Office of the Wet’suwe’ten since then, and that those negotiations are going well.
Wyke also said Apache plans to host another open house in Houston about the Pacific Trails Pipeline.
Open houses held in Burns Lake, Vanderhoof and Terrace last February all had between 30 and 50 people turn out, he said, and he expected to have about the same number in Houston last week.
“We take a lot away from these open houses, and that’s the reason we do them,” he said.
“It’s great to come away with local knowledge, and meet residents who come down with questions and concerns.”
Based in Houston, Texas, Apache Corp. holds a 60 per cent stake in Pacific Trails, which is also backed by oil and gas producers Encana Corp. and EOG Resources (formerly Enron).
Pacific Trails would tap an existing north-south line at Summit Lake near Prince George to bring gas from the Horn River basin in northeast B.C. to a $4.5 liquefaction plant and export terminal at Kitimat.
If it goes ahead, it will be Canada’s first facility to export liquefied natural gas to Asia, where prices are several times higher than in North America.
Apache Canada has 7.5 million gross acres of oil and gas fields in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
In June, the company confirmed the discovery of 48 trillion cubic feet of gas in B.C.’s Liard Basin, a find it says is the largest in North America.