A brownfield pulp mill site at Squamish could end up the first of B.C.’s 13 proposed liquefied natural gas exporters.
Premier Christy Clark has signed her second letter of intent since arriving in Asia for an LNG sales trip. It’s for one of the smallest, at Woodfibre, where the last of a series of forest operations closed in 2006. The pulp mill’s main legacy is an industrial-sized FortisBC natural gas line, which a company owned by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto has proposed to use for an LNG export terminal.
Private ownership, a century of industrial history on the B.C. coast and the existing pipeline make the Woodfibre site one of the simpler proposals to bring online.
The largest agreement was signed Monday with Malaysian giant Petronas for export facilities at Port Edward on the B.C. North Coast. Purchase agreements from petroleum corporations in China, Japan, India and Brunei were unveiled at ceremonies in Kuala Lumpur.
Before the trip, Clark signed a similar letter of intent with a consortium headed by Shell Canada for a high-volume pipeline and LNG export facilities at Kitimat.
In an interview from Singapore, Clark said the Asian network offered by Petronas shows the world’s biggest players are responding to B.C.’s stable economy and its tax rates for gas exports. Clark said the China and India markets alone have steep growth ahead, with India Oil projecting a five-fold increase in gas use over the next decade.
“Today when you look at world events, you look at what’s happening with Russia and Crimea, you look at what happens in Africa on a regular basis, and some of the things that have happened in Australia where they’ve changed the goalposts, companies want one partner that they can trust explicitly,” Clark said. “And that is us.”
The consortium of Shell, PetroChina, Korea Gas and Mitsubishi identified their projects in Africa, Russia and Australia as competing for their investment capital.
B.C.’s biggest obstacles are the price in Asia by 2018, labour cost and building pipelines over the Rocky Mountains.