Pipe delivery and storage of a piece of pipeline, using a large machine to move it.
Courtesy Coastal GasLink

Oil & Gas 101: What’s the Coastal GasLink pipeline?

This vital pipeline will safely deliver natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the West Coast, helping launch Canada’s LNG industry.

Coastal GasLink (CGL) is a pipeline that will safely transport natural gas from its starting point near Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the West Coast. The pipeline project will move natural gas extracted by Canadian natural gas producers in B.C. and Alberta. At Kitimat, CGL will deliver the natural gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities for export to markets overseas.

CGL is a vital energy infrastructure project that will provide economic benefit s for Canadians while enhancing global energy security. The project has been a decade in the making and construction is expected to be completed in 2023. CGL is being built and will be operated by TC Energy, an experienced Canadian energy infrastructure company that operates a network of more than 90,000 kilometres of natural gas pipelines across North America.

Approximately 670 kilometres (416 miles) long, CGL will move natural gas to the LNG Canada liquefaction plant near Kitimat. The pipeline will initially move 2.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of natural gas with the potential to expand to deliver up to 5 bcf/d.

Designing the pipeline route

In 2012, LNG Canada chose TC Energy to design, build, own and operate CGL. The ongoing engagement process with Indigenous groups, landowners, communities and other stakeholders potentially impacted by the pipeline started immediately, followed by environmental and engineering studies along the proposed route. The route is designed to minimize environmental risk, and incorporate feedback and concerns related to safety, archeological and cultural values, and land-use compatibility.

The project received approvals from the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) in October 2014. The proposal was amended in November 2017 to incorporate a different route near the town of Houston, B.C. The new route was designed with extensive feedback from Indigenous communities in the area. The amended route was approved in 2018 (EAO) and 2019 (BCOGC).

coastal gaslink route map jan 2023
The route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project through northern B.C. was designed to minimize environmental risk and incorporate feedback from those affected. Map courtesy TC Energy.

Construction started in 2018. The pipeline is designed to use the least disruptive construction methods currently available, using TC Energy’s experience developed over decades of pipeline construction and operation in Canada. The project was divided into eight sections so work could proceed at various locations all at the same time. Even as construction continues, reclamation activities follow right behind, to restore temporary disturbances such as access roads and work camp sites.

Indigenous engagement and partnerships

From the beginning, Coastal GasLink has engaged Indigenous communities along the pipeline route. The project’s success relies on working closely with Indigenous groups, incorporating their views and feedback. CGL takes a collaborative approach to engaging and working with Indigenous communities to ensure long-term, valuable opportunities to create lasting benefits. CGL has signed agreements with all 20 elected Indigenous groups whose traditional territories overlap along the approved route.

One of the project’s unique aspects is the Construction Monitoring and Community Liaison (CMCL) program, which involves members from all 20 Indigenous communities. CMCL offers opportunities for Indigenous community members to observe, record and report on implementation of construction activities. The program is a way to ensure Indigenous communities are fully informed on what’s happening and can provide traditional and cultural knowledge to aid in the process.

CGL has also awarded numerous contracts to Indigenous businesses for work from tree clearing and road maintenance to medical, security and camp management, plus supplying goods and services to the project. Its prime contractors have also established partnerships with local Indigenous businesses to deliver meaningful opportunities and create lasting capacity.

In 2019, as construction progressed through isolated areas in northeastern B.C., accommodations were needed to house the thousands of men and women working on the pipeline. Sukunka Lodge was one such project, housing up to 700 workers with West Moberly First Nations playing a lead role to build and operate the facility. And in 2022, the Skin Tyee Nation, Wet’suwet’en Nation, and Witset First Nation partnered with OJ Pipelines to complete Section 7 of the pipeline.

West Moberly First Nations played a lead role building and operating the Sukunka Lodge, a housing facility for workers. Photo courtesy TC Energy.

Another unique aspect is the reclamation of the former Vanderhoof Lodge site in northeastern B.C. The lodge was built to accommodate construction crews. Since the lodge was decommissioned in 2021, site has undergone extensive reclamation. What was once home for hundreds of workers has been transformed into what will soon be almost 48 acres of viable farmland.

In March 2022, TC Energy announced that the company had reached an agreement with 16 of the 20 participating Indigenous communities along the route to allow those communities to purchase a 10-per-cent equity stake in the pipeline (pending financing and project completion). In other words – part ownership, which will continue to generate revenue for these communities throughout the pipeline’s operating life and give them a seat at the table as decisions are made.

Once the pipeline is in operation, community support will continue as community investment, education, training and investments in cultural, sports, health and other community programs and infrastructure.

Construction progress

Construction and environment teams are working together to ensure protection of critical waterways along the project route.

As of its January 2023 update, CGL indicates it has achieved 83 per cent overall completion of the Coastal GasLink project.

Informative monthly updates are available online.