On July 11, Canada LNG announced it had indefinitely delayed the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility near Kitimat until at least 2017.
The decision came after oil production increases in the Middle East drove down the world price of oil, taking gas with it.
This project, which was led by Shell Canada with support of the Haisla Nation, is the latest fuel project to encounter delays.
Another major delay was that of Petronas Canada, which were told to wait for three more months by the Canadian Federal Environmental Assessment Agency in order to finish an impact study.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett said she is upset with the delay, but is still ever hopeful.
“There is nothing we can do about the world economy. You can’t predict what’s going to happen.
“We however, are still optimistic. We hope global gas prices turn around. We just have to wait until the market changes.”
Some people are not as optimistic as FirstEnergy Capital Corp institutional research vice-president Martin King points out.
“It just creates a dark cloud over what is already a bunch of dark clouds for that type of economic activity.”
LNG was part of a political gamble B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark made during the 2013 provincial election campaign. She promised 100,000 jobs and $100 billion in revenue over several decades, which was rolled into Clark’s B.C. Prosperity Fund.
Her program, boosted this year by $100 million from current budget surpluses, aimed at eliminating the British Columbia’s debt and investing in health care, education, transportation, family supports and other priorities requiring future cash injections by the province.
With the sudden fluctuation of oil and gas prices internationally, however, no major project is expected to be under construction before the start of the 2017 provincial election campaign.
Despite these setbacks, Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman said he remains committed to making the project a reality.
“The provincial government remains optimistic about the future. Our government is focused on building a viable, globally competitive industry to create new jobs and secure long-term economic benefits.”
Meanwhile, after the construction delay announcement on July 11, LNG Canada CEO Andy Calitz said he wants this deal to go through as it remains a promising opportunity.
“[There are] important commercial and engineering contracts in place to build the project.”
Other parties involved with the project, such as the Fort Nelson First Nations (FNFN), are maintaining high spirits.
Its project area is one of the prime locations for the LNG development and the FNFN are committed to making this project happen as it will help the local economy, as well as ensure the “most environmentally friendly operational procedures.”
“We believe LNG development can prosper without full-scale damage to the land, air, water, fish, and animals,” the FNFN stated in a July 11 press release.
Barnett is also adamant about the FNFN’s involvement with the project.
“We don’t want them to pull out. They want to move their community forward like we all do. It’s all about doing what’s best for your community and your family.”
In terms of a backup plan, Barnett said the other industries of B.C. will assist the province until these issues are resolved.
“We hope that the tourism, tech, mining, forest, film, and education industries of this province stay vibrant and keep B.C. as strong as it is in Canada.”
In terms of how this may effect her position in next year’s election, Barnett said she plans to keep on as she always has.
“I’m going to do what I’ve done for years. Working as hard as I can for the Cariboo-Chilcotin and being a down-to-earth person working for the people in the constituency.”
Meanwhile, LNG Canada and the government of B.C. will continue to discuss potentially moving forward with the project.
However, at the moment, all anyone can do is wait for the economy to bounce back in favour of the project, Barnett said.
“We have to continue to move forward until the energy economy changes.
“It’s really easy to give up, but if you keep your confidence, you won’t.”