Investment in liquefied natural gas could grow Canada’s economy by $11 billion a year between now and 2064, and B.C. and Alberta would benefit the most from competitive changes, the Conference Board of Canada says.
With LNG Canada and the Coastal GasLink pipeline underway to Kitimat, and a smaller facility proposed for Squamish, Canada and B.C. could benefit from further development to supply the growing demand from China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India and South Korea, the board said in a new report released Nov. 9.
While B.C. has natural advantages including shorter shipping distance and colder weather for the super-cooled LNG product, the international trade is highly competitive.
“The tax and fiscal environment, regulatory approval timelines and policy support can all be improved,” the report says. “When comparing the LNG investment landscape in B.C. to that of key competing regions (for example the U.S. Gulf of Mexico states), some of these challenges become highlighted. Accelerated regulatory approvals, municipal property tax breaks, enhanced capital cost allowances, existing pipeline supply infrastructure and existing LNG facilities with trained workforces elsewhere make attracting LNG investment to a fledgling B.C. industry challenging.”
As B.C. Premier John Horgan prepares to assemble a cabinet for a second term, his NDP majority means no longer needing B.C. Green Party support for policy changes. The Greens bitterly opposed Horgan’s moves to drop the LNG income tax imposed by the former B.C. Liberal government and make other changes that led to LNG Canada’s partners proceeding with the investment estimated at $40 billion over its lifetime.
That opposition was centred on the greenhouse gas impact, not only of gas-fired LNG production but of further development of B.C. and Alberta shale gas deposits. LNG Canada taps into the Montney shale formation, which extends from B.C.’s northeast into northwestern Alberta, and the Horn River formation to the northeast of that offers substantial further supply.
Horgan adopted former B.C. premier Christy Clark’s argument that exporting LNG would displace coal as China, India and other Pacific Rim countries continue to develop. With no commitment to limit its emissions under the Paris climate agreement, China is continuing to expand its already huge coal power infrastructure, and building or planning more coal-fired power plants in Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.
The Conference Board projections are based on LNG Canada’s phase two expansion beginning in 2023, followed by an additional LNG plant in northwestern B.C. beginning in 2024 that would be fully electrified from the B.C. Hydro power grid. That plant would need construction of another pipeline.