B.C. would be ‘transformed’ by LNG, company CEO claims
LNG Canada chief says projects will strengthen B.C. links to Asian markets
British Columbia will be “transformed” if a liquefied natural gas industry takes hold in the province, according to the chief executive officer of LNG Canada.
“There is substantial revenue flow, employment opportunities, contracting opportunities and business opportunities,” said Andy Calitz during a panel discussion on the industry’s future in B.C. at a Vancouver Board of Trade meeting Friday.
“It will transform B.C. I’ve seen that transformation in Western Australia. I’ve seen that transformation in Russia, in Papua New Guinea. It makes an amazing difference.”
In June, the multibillion-dollar LNG Canada project near Kitimat, led by Royal Dutch Shell, was given the environmental go-ahead, subject to dozens of conditions.
Calitz said that B.C. will be linked much more strongly to Asian markets with an LNG industry.
“B.C., through the LNG industry, will be linked to China, Japan, Taiwan, India, and Korea with an umbilical cord with $50 (million) to $100 million worth of product leaving B.C. and travelling for 10 days to one of the port cities of Asia,” added Calitz. “That new umbilical cord creates a whole new connectedness across the Pacific.”
The LNG Canada partners — Shell and companies from Japan, China and Korea — still have a lot of work ahead. They must determine whether moving forward with the project makes business sense and they aim to make a final investment decision in 2016.
LNG Canada — one of 19 projects proposed for the West Coast — expects 7,500 workers will be employed during peak construction and an estimated $8 billion will be spent on goods and services within Canada, including $3 billion in B.C.
Calitz said Friday that the 2016 opening is on schedule, although a recovery in oil prices is very important.
Asked about the availability of labour, panelist Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C., said Alberta’s recession has put up to 30,000 workers out of a job, with significantly more to come.
“From our perspective, it eases the pressures for skilled workers, engineers, project managers, even materials. The timing of the oil-driven downturn in Alberta versus the potential ramping up of projects in B.C. should make it more possible for companies like LNG Canada to manage their labour supply and cost issues in a more effective manner than we might have expected two or three years ago.”
First Nations in the area around Kitimat and Prince Rupert, where many LNG projects are being proposed, stand to gain financially but not all are happy with some developments.
Panelist Kim Baird, former Tsawwassen First Nation chief, owner of Kim Baird Strategic and a Vancouver Board of Trade director, said LNG is looked at by many First Nations as cleaner than oil.
“Most people aren’t aware of the degree of support of the number of First Nations around these projects, because the typical mainstream media coverage of it is First Nations and environmentalist versus industry. It’s a lot more complex than that.”
On the other hand, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation said this month it plans to claim title to Lelu Island and Flora Bank — considered critical habitat for juvenile salmon — near Prince Rupert, planned site of an $11-billion plant that’s part of the $36-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal, to force changes to the project.
More concerns arose recently when it was revealed that Malaysian state-owned energy giant Petronas, which is spearheading the PNW project, was told in late 2013 that it was dealing with “very serious” safety and integrity issues throughout its offshore Malaysian operations