First Nations enlisting local company in pursuit of natural gas project

Lheidli T’enneh Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band and Prince George-based Formula Capital Corp. said Monday they are close to forming a partnership to develop a natural gas complex in the First Nations' fledgling industrial park north of the city.

The move comes after West Coast Olefins Ltd. president Ken James said in December it has decided to renew a plan to build a complex at the BCR Industrial Site in Prince George.

WCOL had considered properties near Summit Lake and Bear Lake - including land LTN and MLIB have their eyes on for the industrial park - but backed away, James said, because opposition to the project remained just as strong as if if was to be built in Prince George.

The next day, LTN and MLIB issued a statement saying they oppose WCOL advancing the project on the BCR industrial site and that there will be no future negotiations between the parties.

In an interview Monday, Formula Capital CEO Paul Tiefensee said the three are close to agreeing on a memorandum of understanding and once signed, a pre-feasibility study will be carried out to assess the project's viability.

He said that at the least, they hope to achieve a complex that extracts and feedstock from the Enbridge West Coast natural gas pipeline and refines it into condensate, butane, ethylene and propane.

Depending on their findings, Tiefensee indicated the goal could be much larger and rival what WCOL has in mind for the BCR, namely plants that produce plastic pellets and antifreeze and heat transfer fluid.

Noted northern B.C. sawmill builder Brian Fehr is the majority owner of Formula Capital which, in turn, owns Formula Contractors Ltd. Tiefensee is the CEO for both firms.

Completed projects listed on Formula Contractors' website include several related to mining and hydroelectricity.

In an interview, LTN Dayi Clay Pountney said the goal is to create something that will benefit the entire region.

LTN and MLIB remain in the process securing land for their Shas Ti-Dlezeh Industrial Park, Pountney confirmed. They have their eyes on close to 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of Crown land about four kilometres southwest of Summit Lake and on the east side of Highway 97 North.

In a response emailed Tuesday, James said WCOL will continue to move forward with its project and is "confident in its ability to advance a project with the highest probability of success."