Politicians vie for LNG credit as B.C. awaits $40B decision
Both NDP government and Liberal opposition tout work they have done on the file
The highly anticipated final investment decision for a $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C. has yet to be made, but the political battle to take credit for encouraging what may be Canada's first major LNG project is already underway.
As the fall session at the B.C. Legislature began Monday, both the NDP government and the Liberal opposition touted the work they have done on the file, as they wait for official confirmation the project in Kitimat, B.C., will go ahead.
Two of the the primary investors in a proposed project granted their final approval Friday for the development, but all five investors in the joint venture must be on board.
PetroChina, and Kogas of South Korea, have both announced their readiness to move forward.
Malaysia's Petronas, Royal Dutch Shell and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. still need to give their approval.
On Sunday, a report from Bloomberg said all five investors had approved the final investment decision, according to unnamed sources, but LNG Canada has yet to confirm its final investment decision.
No official word
B.C.'s energy minister says she too is waiting for an official decision, but should the project move forward, Michelle Mungall says credit should go to the government's framework for LNG development, which was unveiled this spring.
"Under the B.C. Liberals, it just didn't happen. They put a lot of effort into it, but it didn't yield any results," Mungall said Monday.
"We came in and saw that we needed a new framework for LNG, and we are hopeful, like many British Columbians, that that will be successful."
The new framework includes a break on the carbon tax and an exemption on provincial sales tax related to construction costs at the proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal.
But Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson disagrees the government incentives are the reason many are optimistic B.C.'s LNG industry is about to take a big step forward. Instead, he says it's just a matter of market prices.
"I think it is kind of sad that the NDP would try to score cheap political points on what is probably the biggest industrial investment in Canadian history," he said.
The NDP's support for LNG development since forming government has been a thorn in the relationship with the B.C. Greens who are worried the province will not be able to achieve carbon emissions targets.
Green Leader Andrew Weaver declined to speculate Monday on how a positive final investment decision for LNG Canada would affect his support of the minority government.
"I recognize that everyone wants this 'will the government fall or not' answer,'" he said Monday. "The question right now is is there a climate plan in place? The answer is it's being developed."
But Weaver was clear the Green caucus won't support the LNG legislation that would be required, which would put the ball in the Liberal court.
A decision on Liberal support will depend on what is in the legislation, Wilkinson said.
"The B.C. Liberals have supported the LNG industry for almost a decade now, and we would be delighted to see the industry come to British Columbia on the right terms."