$40B natural gas investment could be undermined by China, warns environmentalist

The liquefied natural gas project announced for B.C. has been hailed by some as an economic boon, but one environmentalist warns that energy development could overtake its usefulness.

China has outpaced expectations in renewable energy, says Karen Tam Wu

An artist's rendering of the proposed LNG Canada project in Kitimat, B.C. (LNG Canada/Flickr)
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The $40-billion liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C. could be obsolete a lot sooner than we think, according to environmentalist Karen Tam Wu.

"China has proven to be a powerhouse in renewable energy development," Tam Wu, the Pembina Institute's managing director for B.C., told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"It shouldn't come as a surprise if one day China turns around [and] says we don't need natural gas anymore, because we are fully self-sufficient on renewable sources of energy."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new 40 billion dollar liquefied natural gas project that will transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to a Kitimat processing plant. 1:11

The $40-billion project was announced Tuesday. Construction begins "immediately," according to LNG Canada, and the new facility is scheduled to be operational sometime in the early 2020s.

Five primary investors — Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysian-owned Petronas, PetroChina Co., and Korean Gas Corp. — will fund the pipeline. It will carry natural gas from Dawson Creek in B.C. to a new processing plant on the coast in Kitimat. There, the gas would be liquefied and exported overseas.

Final approval has been given for a $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant and pipeline for Northern B.C. The 670-kilometre pipeline will run natural gas from Dawson Creek to the plant in Kitimat, which will liquefy and export the gas to Asia. (CBC News)

But Tam Wu warned the investment could be undermined by changing markets.

"The terminal and this project has somewhere between 40- and 60-year lifespan," she said.

Given China's development, improvements in battery technology and research into other sources of fuel, there is a real risk that lifespan could be cut short, she added.

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.


Produced by Zena Olijnyk, Allie Jaynes and Kristian Jebsen.

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