Session Highlights Preparations for LNG Development

A packed session on Monday heard an update on efforts to develop liquid natural gas (LNG) industry in British Columbia.

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development, Minister Responsible for Housing and Deputy Premier, outlined the opportunities and challenges facing the industry.  At present, 18 facilities have been proposed for British Columbia.  The National Energy Board has also approved nine LNG export licenses.

“There is an over supply of natural gas in the North American continent,” said Coleman.  “If we are not able to move BC’s natural gas to another marketplace, much of it will stay in the ground.”

Minister Coleman underscored the need for British Columbia to demonstrate a sufficient labour supply to support the demand that would follow industry decisions to invest. Coleman also spoke to the importance of stability and certainty with regard to taxation, noting that LNG income tax legislation is slated for this fall.   

Referencing British Columbia’s advantages in comparison to other jurisdictions, Minister Coleman quoted one industry leader as saying BC’s lower ambient temperatures, which reduce the amount of energy necessary to liquefy natural gas thereby reducing costs, “is like getting a pipeline for free.” 

Mayor Lori Ackerman outlined how Fort St. John is preparing for the growth that would flow from LNG development.  Mayor Ackerman referenced the City’s participation in the recently launched Northeast B.C. Resource Municipalities Coalition, which also includes the communities of Dawson Creek, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, Taylor, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Pouce Coupe.  Ackerman also highlighted the need for community engagement on challenging issues by referencing Fort St. John’s discussion paper Let’s Talk Site C.  “Noah wasn’t in favour of the flood but he built an ark,” said Ackerman.

Chief Councillor Ellis Ross from the Haisla Nation said the potential of LNG represents “the first opportunity our people have had to get out from under the Indian Act.” Chief Ross outlined the positive social impact that increased employment is already providing, adding that the preparation for development “has opened up our village to the world.”

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole from the District of Kitimat outlined the impacts of worker camps on communities.  “Permanent homes are not a housing solution for temporary workers, so work camps are necessary,” said Poole.  Work camps, though, require additional services such as health care and policing which local governments need to be ready to provide.  There currently are 2,600 temporary workers in Kitimat working on the modernization of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter.

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