BY PETER CAULFIELD - More than 180 people from 120 organizations, companies and communities took part in the recent 2013 B.C. Jobs and Trade Mission to China, Korea and Japan.
The main goal of the mission was to advance liquefied natural gas (LNG) development opportunities in B.C.
“LNG development in BC means jobs for British Columbians,” said Tom Sigurdson, executive director of B.C. Building Trades, who took part in the mission.
“Building the physical plant of only one project is expected to create approximately 3,000 construction jobs over two years.”
He added that building the pipeline to transport the gas would create another 2,000 jobs over two years.
He said in addition to the economic stimulus for B.C., LNG development will be good for the environment in Asia.
“About 90 per cent of all the rivers in China are polluted,” Sigurdson said. “And, the air pollution in the country is terrible, too. In the middle of the day in Beijing I couldn’t see more than 100 metres around me in any direction.”
Sigurdson said the main source of energy in China now is coal.
“LNG will be a significant improvement over coal,” he said.
“Asians need sources of clean energy and Canada has an important role to play in alleviating their situation. Environmentalists here, who are worried about tankers obscuring their views of Burrard Inlet, should go to China and see how bad the view is there.”
Sigurdson said he went on the mission to explain to people in Asia, especially in Korea, how labour is sourced for major projects in B.C.
“Some people in Asia are concerned that there might be a shortage of skilled trades on any LNG projects that are built in B.C.,” he said.
“So, I explained to them that, in North America, construction workers travel to jobs, and that, if there is a boom in western Canada, we can access skilled trades from other parts of Canada and the U.S.”
B.C. International Trade Minister Teresa Wat, who also took part in the Nov. 21 to Dec. 3 mission, said China, South Korea and Japan are all major importers of LNG.
“Japan is the world’s largest importer of LNG and demand in China is surging,” she said.
“All three countries are priority LNG markets for B.C.”
While on the mission, Wat traveled to nine cities in every region of China and Premier Christy Clark visited Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan.
“The premier and I met with key LNG decision makers and executives of some of the world’s largest energy companies,” Wat said.
“We met with the heads of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), PetroChina and Sinopec. The first two are already planning LNG projects in B.C. and Sinopec is eager to invest.”
Wat said that early in 2014 a B.C. delegation will go back to Asia to update interested parties there on how negotiations with First Nations and applications for environmental permits have been proceeding.
“It’s important that we stay in touch with our potential partners in Asia,” Wat said.
“Competition for LNG investment dollars is very stiff.”
Although the market for liquefied natural gas is growing, precise numbers are hard to find, said Heather Kincaide, natural resources program manager of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
“It’s hard to say what the size of the Asian market will be for LNG because it depends on so many variables on both the supply and demand sides,” she said.
According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute, the global demand for LNG imports is expected to almost double between 2011 and 2025, with most of that demand coming from Asia.
In 2011, six countries in the Asia-Pacific region imported a record high 20.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas through LNG re-gasification terminals.
B.C. does not have any LNG export capacity yet, but it’s working on it.
The provincial government wants to develop an LNG industry and has set a goal of having three LNG facilities in operation by 2020.
In response to the government’s initiative, several large companies and global investors have come forward with a variety of LNG proposals that are at various stages of development.
Most of the planned projects are in or around Kitimat and Prince Rupert and many of them include investors from Asia.