By Rich Coleman
This was the year British Columbia secured a liquefied natural gas export industry.
The guarantee happened in November when Woodfibre LNG announced it will move forward its facility, representing $1.6 billion in new investment and hundreds of jobs. It marked the first confirmation that B.C.’s clean natural gas will reach markets in Asia.
It’s a project that joins the work already underway in Delta where FortisBC is expanding its facility to serve domestic needs and potential export.
This expansion has already provided $60 million in contract work to more than 100 companies and businesses in communities, such as Vancouver, Langley, Abbotsford and Coquitlam.
Both of these projects are a fraction of what’s on the horizon for B.C.’s economy should larger proposals move forward, including Pacific NorthWest LNG.
The Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal, pending a confirmed final investment decision, would result in up to $36 billion in new capital spending, 4,500 new construction jobs and close to 350 permanent positions.
These benefits are in addition to the thousands of jobs created and sustained to support the proposal’s long-term operations and supply needs.
As 2016 concluded, we estimated more than $20 billion has been invested by the industry so far.
Companies have spent money to acquire natural gas assets and move development forward, facilitating growth and creating jobs.
A scenario of five export facilities moving forward holds the prospect of $175 billion being invested in British Columbia – an unprecedented economic boost that we are capitalizing on.
Alongside economic growth, investments are also being made to build a cleaner natural gas sector.
In 2016, the government of British Columbia introduced a Clean Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program – the first of its kind in Canada – with royalty deductions of up to $20 million attracting new private-sector funding for clean technologies.
Once built and in operation, these projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to the industry, complementing our commitment to have the cleanest LNG facilities in the world.
Since the BC Jobs Plan was released in 2011, we have been focused on developing a viable, competitive new industry to diversify our economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help our natural gas sector grow. It’s happening now, and we are just getting started.
Collaboration with First Nations is ongoing as we strengthen environmental stewardship programs and finalize economic benefits agreements.
Partnerships with trades associations are also coming together to increase skills training for aboriginal communities and for those interested in finding a career in the natural gas sector. These are priorities the provincial government will be supporting in 2017 and beyond.
This was a banner year for B.C.’ s natural gas sector; our actions helped WoodfibreLNG announce it will move forward and they supported Pacific NorthWest LNG’s pending decision. The LNG industry is a long-term commitment and one we will continue to promote globally at the next LNG Conference, Nov. 28-30, 2017.
Rich Coleman is the Minister of Natural Gas Development.