One of the financial backers of the Watson Island Development Corporation (WatCo) is publicly questioning the motives of the City of Prince Rupert for entering into an exclusivity agreement with Watson Island LNG (WILNG).
Jason Youn Kim, CEO of Global Resources and Energy Enterprises, says there are several reasons the agreement with WILNG doesn’t make any sense, not the least of which is the ongoing court case between WatCo and the city over a failed sale of the site.
While WILNG was incorporated in April, Kim noted the partners involved in WatCo include such recognized names as CN Rail, Samsung and Hyundai. That type of support makes it a more viable developer for the former pulp mill site, he claims.
“The financing is in place as are the markets; we have the support of the Korean government and have a remediation plan in place with a recognized company standing by to start the cleanup on short notice … as a point of interest, the president of South Korea, Park Guen Hye, is coming to B.C. in September to discuss LNG. She will be accompanied by the president of Samsung and Hyundai, which are also members of our consortium, and will be meeting with Premier Christy Clark,” he wrote in a letter to the Northern View, outlining some of the plans for the site.
“WatCo … a credible international consortium with a track record was organized to not only develop Watson Island with a large LNG plant but to include other products and a bulk terminal to export goods such as torrefied biofuels that will help replace coal and other commodities such as petroleum coke.”
Kim said another reason the city should have stayed with WatCo is the certainty it creates as it relates to First Nations in the region.
“Watson Island is the subject of First Nations land claims that stand a very good chance to succeed after the Supreme Court ruling on First Nations claims … WatCo has already brought the First Nations into the project as full partners who will continue to own the island while having a large stake in the project itself, which will help First Nations communities for years to come,” he wrote.
While questioning why the specifics of the agreement with WILNG are not being released, Kim accused Prince Rupert city council of “playing games with the futures of Prince Rupert, its citizens, the First Nations or anyone else” by signing an agreement with an upstart company.
“How can the mayor be so confident this proposal is so good that he’s ready to give the proponent carte blanche with the future of the community? Personally, I am very suspicious of council’s motivation here,” he wrote, adding that the city now has a credibility issue.
“A real problem of its own making now facing the current council is, given its actions with WatCo, can it be trusted to honour any contract with anyone from this time forward?”
Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem declined to comment on the concerns raised by Kim as the dispute between the City of Prince Rupert and WatCo remains before the courts.