Woodfibre LNG will move its floatel workcamp from Nanaimo to Howe Sound site, and will comply with a B.C. Environmental Assessment Office order to house non-local workers on it; Source: Woodfibre LNG

Floatel on the move to house 650-strong workforce for Canada’s $5.1 billion LNG project

In the wake of a regulatory order, a floating workforce accommodation, also known as floatel, will be transferred to the site of a 2.1 million-tonne-per-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project with 250,000 m3 of floating storage capacity being built near Squamish, British Columbia (B.C.), which is said to be the world’s first net zero LNG export facility.

Woodfibre LNG will move its floatel workcamp from Nanaimo to Howe Sound site, and will comply with a B.C. Environmental Assessment Office order to house non-local workers on it; Source: Woodfibre LNG

Following the receipt of a compliance order from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office on June 17, Woodfibre LNG has been cleared to deploy its floatel for non-local workforce accommodation to the site under the terms of the amended environmental assessment certificate from November 2023, which authorized the use of such a temporary floating worker housing setup for up to 650 employees outside the community of Squamish.

The floatel, which represents an investment of $100 million, is currently anchored near Nanaimo and will be moved to Howe Sound to comply with the order and house non-local construction workers as it was designed to do. The vessel will remain moored at the site until the completion of construction in 2027 to ensure workers have no impact on community infrastructure and services.

Bridgemans Services Group, the floatel vendor, is expected to provide 24-hour safety and security services to ensure the comfort and safety of all workers, who will be transported by boat from the Lower Mainland to and from the floatel at the Woodfibre LNG project site to prevent impacts on traffic through Squamish.

With a design made for net zero environmental impact, the floatel will operate on hydroelectric shore power. The vessel sports multiple systems, including an ultraviolet water purification system, industrial heat pumps, and sewage treatment that includes ultrafiltration, a low-intensity UV unit, and shipping to a waste management facility in B.C.

Located seven kilometers southwest of Squamish, the Woodfibre LNG facility is being built upon the former site of the Woodfibre pulp mill that operated for roughly a century. Only accessible by water, the site is perceived to be uniquely suited as a marine export location.  Operated by Woodfibre Management, a privately held Canadian company based in Vancouver, the project is owned by Woodfibre LNG Limited partnership, with 70% held by Pacific Energy Corporation and the remaining 30% by Enbridge.

The Woodfibre LNG project is being constructed on the historical site of Swiy̓át, a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) village, in Nexwnéwu7ts Átlḵ’a7tsem (Howe Sound). This development encompasses the construction of a liquefaction train, a floating LNG storage and offloading unit, an air-cooling system, and marine docking facilities for LNG carriers.

The construction of the project started in August 2023 when Qingdao McDermott Wuchuan (QMW) fabrication yard, a joint venture of McDermott and China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), began building the first module for the project. The delivery of 18 modules, totaling 34,359 MT, is slated for the third quarter of 2025.

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Three 15-year offtake agreements with BP underpin the development of this project, which was previously anticipated to cost about $1.6 billion before the figure was revised in the summer of 2022 to $5.1 billion. Since coal is still a primary fuel source in many countries, the shift to natural gas is seen as a step in the right direction to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by half.

According to the Canadian operator, natural gas and LNG are important energy sources to complement solar and wind power in reducing global dependence on coal-fired plants, thus, Woodfibre LNG is expected to support the transition to net zero, not only domestically but also internationally.