GUYSBOROUGH – Marcus McLaren planned to make a trip home to Guysborough County this fall. But because of the ongoing health restrictions related to dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic – particularly the two-week self-isolation requirement upon returning to his home province – he has decided deer hunting with his younger brothers will not happen this year.
His father, Rickey – the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) councillor for District 7 – says the prospects for young people with the proposed Goldboro LNG project would mean opportunities to live and work at home, rather than having to travel to western locations – including Fort McMurray, where his son has been for the past decade.
“He would love to be back in Nova Scotia,” the elder McLaren notes.
A pair of recent announcements from Calgary-based Pieridae Energy Limited – the company proposing the project – has renewed hope for Marcus and countless others.
“We have been waiting for this,” Councillor McLaren says, adding Goldboro LNG would be a “great thing” – not only for his district, which covers the area of the planned facility and the municipality, but also the Strait region and the province.
An Oct. 1 press release from Black Diamond Group – one of Pieridae’s partners for the project – announced that they and Wskijnu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency Ltd (WMA), a corporate body owned by the 13 Mi’kmaw First Nation communities in Nova Scotia, have been awarded the opportunity to “exclusively negotiate the contract providing for the construction of a lodge and associated amenities during the four-year construction phase” of the Goldboro LNG project.
The estimated $720-million workforce lodge will house up to 5,000 workers.
WMA will handle the lodge’s hospitality services, while Black Diamond will oversee the supply and rental aspects.
The partners expect the contact to take effect on or before June 30, 2021, which is the anticipated date for a final investment decision by Pieridae.
“We are excited about what this project means to the Mi’kmaw communities of Nova Scotia and the benefits it will bring to all of Atlantic Canada,” Chief PJ Prosper, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations, says in the joint press release.
Chief Tma Francis of Paqtnkek First Nation – one of the WMA members – adds “a key component of reconciliation in Canada is the ability to have meaningful involvement in projects happening within our territories.
“We desire responsible development and environmental stewardship that reflects a Mi’kmaq voice and our agreement with Pieridae is an example of how companies can respect our Mi’kmaw Rights and Title and also provide an opportunity for Mi’kmaq participation in development on our lands,” he continues.
They say the project and workforce lodge will provide “significant economic opportunities” for all Mi’kmaq communities in the province.
One day after the lodge announcement – in an interview with The Journal – Pieridae CEO Alfred Sorensen says there will be “more opportunities to come” for the province’s Mi’kmaw communities.
He notes “one of the most important” aspects of this deal is “ensuring benefits” for the Mi’kmaw communities, as part of a continuing effort to live up to the benefits agreement between the partners.
“It is important that we have been able to make this a ‘living’ document,” Sorensen says, adding many agreements of this type are “often forgotten by the proponent, once they are signed.”
Word of the lodge deal came less than one week after Pieridae announced a services agreement with Bechtel – an engineering, construction and project management company – to complete a “detailed review” of the Goldboro LNG facility’s scope and design, along with a “comprehensive” engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning execution (EPCC) plan (an accompanying story on this contract appears in this week's Business section on page 12).
“It is important to us,” Sorensen says, adding the “likelihood of financing would be very close to zero [for the project],” without this deal.
He explains Bechtel will provide a fixed price for the initiative that Pieridae will use in its pitch to secure monies.
“It is a key to getting us over the finish line,” Sorensen adds.
He notes the EPCC and lodge agreements have infused “great momentum into the project again.”
Warden Vernon Pitts of MODG describes these announcements as a “great piece of news for our municipality.”
“We have been dealing with developments of this nature in excess of 20 years – with the Sable Offshore Energy Project being the first – and our communities are very well acclimatized, as well as being open to this type of development,” says.
Pitts adds council has been “engaged since day one” with Goldboro LNG due to the proposed location for the initiative – the Goldboro Industrial Park.
“It is the very cornerstone of this project – location, location, location,” he notes.
Pitts predicts Goldboro LNG will “very likely be one of the largest investments, if not the single largest investment,” in not only MODG, but also the history of the province.
McLaren agrees, describing its possibility as one of the “best things,” when it comes to development.
“I am hearing from people that this is the greatest thing that could ever happen,” he says, when asked about the feedback he receives from residents in his district.
When it comes to opposition, McLaren suggests there has been “a little bit here and there.”
He also notes – more broadly – MODG would benefit from the taxes associated with such a development.
“Council has seen fit over the years – and throughout our planning process – to acquire the necessary properties, along with the appropriate zoning in the Goldboro area, for just this type of industrial development,” Pitts explains, noting having infrastructure related to the existing Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline “only strengthens the business case” for the Pieridae initiative.
Pitts adds another key component is the involvement of Mi’kmaw communities which “gives this project even that much more credibility.”
“The spin-offs from a project of this magnitude are truly immeasurable, and it’s great to see our First Nations and others invest in what I will say is the ground level, thus ensuring we all have a fair and equal opportunity to invest and receive a fair return on investment in capturing the countless spin-off opportunities,” he says.
Pitts adds council has made “significant investments” related to these and other similar projects, which he anticipates will continue.
“There’s the potential here for our population to double, which is a good thing, but that also entails further investments in other municipal services, such as policing, solid waste and building inspections – just to name a few,” he notes of the Goldboro LNG project.
As for where those possible new MODG residents will be living, the lodge will include bedrooms (with private baths), dining and recreation facilities, including a gym, outdoor and indoor sports courts and fields, along with golf simulators.
Sorensen says Black Diamond has spent more than three months designing the facility, with Pieridae representatives offering contributions on “what it should look like.”
“Happy workers are productive workers,” he offers, in commenting on how important having a quality to place to live is a key to employee productivity.
The lodge partners – as part of the deal – are responsible for “building, operating and dismantling” the location.
Sorensen explains the recreation and registration buildings will have a modular design.
“Maybe a community centre for the [Goldboro] area,” Sorensen muses about the possible uses for those two structures.
Pieridae will lease the other buildings so that once they are no longer needed, Black Diamond will continue its ownership and re-purpose them.
Black Diamond officials say a “significant number” of modular structures will come from their existing Canadian inventory, while Kent Homes – a division of Saint John, NB based J.D. Irving Limited – will complete the make-ready work, which is set to take place in Atlantic Canada.
The workforce lodge and its operations are expected to create 750 full-time jobs.
‘Next big one’
As for securing financing for Goldboro LNG, Sorensen describes that as “the next big one.”
He says they are “working very hard” at obtaining those monies, while noting they cannot complete that until they receive a projected final price from Bechtel’s ongoing work.
Sorensen says the goal is to have “boots on the ground” in the first quarter of 2021 to start the estimated two-year long site preparation process.
He says the approximately $800-million process will include the removal of a roadway and power lines. More than three-million metric tons of rock also has to be removed from the property. Along with that, a wharf must be constructed – one that will receive the complex modules.
“There are a lot of things involved,” Sorensen adds.