Posthaste: Canada’s largest ever energy project faces fresh turmoil as First Nations evict workers
Canada’s multi-billion LNG Canada project is facing fresh trouble, as work on a key artery linking the export facility near Kitimat, B.C. to natural gas resources in Dawson Creek area is being halted by First Nations groups.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, said over the weekend that they issued an eviction notice to the Coastal GasLink pipeline company, which is building the $6.6 billion project.
LNG Canada, which is also under construction, is said to be the largest private sector investment in Canadian history, with a price tag of around $40 billion and is being developed by a Royal Dutch Shell-led consortium. The project will export Canadian natural gas to Asian markets.
The First Nations’ move comes after the B.C. Supreme Court sided with the company and granted access to areas covered by the injunction at the end of December. The decision did not spell out what the RCMP can do to enforce the injunction but police have been heavily scrutinized over the past year for enforcing a previous injunction granted by Justice Church against Coastal GasLink protestors.
Wet’suwet’en says Coastal Gaslink violated its law of trespass, bulldozed through its territories, destroyed its archaeological sites, and occupied it land with industrial camps.
“Private security firms and RCMP have continually interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of Wet’suwet’en people to access our lands for hunting, trapping, and ceremony,” the First Nations said.
Coastal GasLink reported that its personnel discovered that trees had been felled making a key road impassable, which is “a clear violation of the Interlocutory Injunction as it prevents our crews from accessing work areas.”
“We have reached out to better understand their reasons and are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable path forward,” the company said. “To that end, we are requesting to meet with Unist’ot’en and the Hereditary Chiefs as soon as possible. Over the past year, Coastal GasLink has repeatedly requested face-to-face meetings with the Unist’ot’en and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en but these requests have either been ignored or rejected by these groups.”
The matter is further complicated as last year British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass legislation implementing the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which aims to end discrimination, uphold basic human rights and ensure more economic justice and fairness for Indigenous groups.
However, while states may consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples in order to obtain their consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them, “UNDRIP is not a legally binding instrument under international law,” according to law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
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The U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian military official has oil markets on edge.
The Iranian leadership is signalling that it will probably target U.S. military installations and bases in the Middle East and mobilize its network of militias across the region, reports Bloomberg. One official told the Iranian state broadcaster that some 36 U.S. military bases and facilities are within reach of Iran’s defence forces, with the closest being in Bahrain.
“We expect retaliation to be in the region, most likely in Iraq,” analysts at ESAI Energy LLC said in a report. “This could have significant impact on crude oil prices.”
Focus will once again return to the Strait of Hormuz, which is a key oil shipping route and separates prickly neighbours Iran and Saudi Arabia. It’s unclear how Iran will plot its next move, but geopolitical premium has returned to oil prices for some time to come.