BC poised for vibrant LNG market despite lingering labour and environmental concerns

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The atmosphere at the 2014 International LNG in B.C. Conference (May 21-23), was nothing short of electric. The optimism in the room was palpable as participants from across Canada and the world met to discuss the prospects for B.C.s liquefied natural gas development and export prospects.

Premier Christy Clark’s keynote address set the tone for the rest of the conference: B.C. will be a leader in LNG exports.

Speakers generally agreed that B.C. has a robust resource base from which to develop a competitive LNG export market. However, a competitive fiscal and tax regime will be an important part of the equation for investors.

As one panelist remarked, “the world does not need LNG from B.C.” The point being, the world needs accessible, competitively priced natural gas, but where that comes from is irrelevant for buyers and there will be stiff competition to supply that gas.

Labour market concerns and an impending labour shortage were high on the agenda, attracting input from government, business and First Nations . The challenge to develop, attract and retain skilled labour for the LNG sector in B.C. could be exacerbated by competition with the Alberta oil sands for similar skills.

The conference also zeroed in on the environmental considerations for B.C’s LNG industry. Key concerns include the upstream production of natural gas, particularly hydraulic fracturing, and methane leakage. B.C. has emphasized that its LNG industry will help meet global climate change goals, but it is unclear precisely how that will be the case.

Overall, the sold-out conference drove home the point that B.C. is poised for something big. The government expects one or two major investment decisions by the end of 2014, putting the rest of Canada on notice that B.C. intends to become a global leader in LNG exports.

Written by Jeffrey Phillips

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