Most could see the bad news coming.
Petronas and its partners announced last week their decision to not proceed with the $36 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project near Port Edward.
The decision, Petronas said, was made after a careful and total review of the project amid changes in market conditions.
Michelle Mungall, NDP minister of energy, mines and petroleum was very quick to reiterate Petronas’ stated reason for the decision.
“The company was very clear,” she said, “this was a decision they are making because of the economic challenges in the global energy marketplace.”
Of course Mungall would pound home that point to anyone who would listen. It was a gift-wrapped political get-out-of-jail-free card.
So while Petronas threw the new B.C. government a bone rather than under the bus, only the extremely naive will believe this was the sole reason for the decision.
Obviously there was no upside for Petronas to single out the NDP/Green coalition in their public statements. But a simple look at the timeline pointed to the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back. Pacific NorthWest LNG had delayed their decision until after the provincial election, that’s clue No. 1. They quietly delayed that decision again until after the backroom shenanigans in Victoria finished and only announced their decision when the dust settled and the anti-LNG Greens were wagging the tail of the NDP dog.
It has been the NDP tag team of Jennifer Rice and Nathan Cullen who have been the political voice for the North Coast and each have gone well out of their way to let Petronas know that they weren’t welcome.
One of, if not, the biggest factors any company weighs during its decision-making process is political certainty. They had hammered out agreements that were economically feasible with the B.C. Liberals. However, once Christy and crew were out of the picture and the Green-NDP coalition was in control of the public purse in Victoria, Petronas executives were most certainly terrified of what the future would bring.
With the orange and green flags flying over B.C., all LNG bets were off. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the North Coast voted for.