Updated deal to bolster LNG plans
VANCOUVER—The B.C. government signed an “updated” benefits agreement with a group of First Nations yesterday—one they hope will quell opposition to one of the many liquefied natural gas projects planned for the province’s north.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced the $32-million deal with 15 First Nations along the route of the proposed Pacific Trails pipeline as she wooed industry investment at an international conference on LNG opportunities in B.C.
“We know there is tremendous competition all around the world,” she added. “We know that the window of opportunity to export liquefied natural gas from British Columbia will not be open forever, so we’re moving decisively.
“There is absolutely no time to waste.”
To that end, Clark announced the amended agreement with the First Nations Limited Partnership. The province will provide $32 million to the partnership for non-equity investment in the pipeline.
“The end result of it is that First Nations are fully behind making sure that access is granted,” Clark said at a news conference following her speech.
Although the many natural gas pipelines and shipping terminals proposed for northern B.C. have not faced the kind of opposition seen by oil pipeline projects, there has been some discord.
A group identifying itself as the Unis’tot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation has evicted surveyors for the Pacific Trails Pipeline on more than one occasion, saying they were trespassing.
The 460-km Pacific Trails pipeline will carry natural gas from Summit Lake, 55 km north of Prince George, to the Kitimat LNG facility proposed by Chevron and Apache.
But Clark’s great expectations for LNG face hurdles from global competition and faltering prices.
Jim Prentice, a former Conservative minister of environment, industry, and aboriginal affairs, now the senior executive vice-president of CIBC, said the race is on for global LNG markets.
“The stakes are high and the challenges are formidable,” Prentice said in a speech at the conference.
“This is no slam dunk.”
Canada faces competition from Asia, Africa, Australia, and the U.S. In order to capitalize on the opportunity, governments need to ensure a competitive tax and royalty regime and sufficient skilled labour.
Prentice encouraged the federal government to co-manage the B.C. coast with the province and coastal First Nations to balance the rewards with environmental risks of increased tanker traffic.
This is “a world deeply concerned with the environment generally and with climate change specifically,” Prentice noted.
“In such a world, if you are in the energy business, then you are by definition in the environmental business also.”