As the BC election campaign progresses towards the May 9th polling date, there are suggestions that the governing Liberal Party is suffering of the consequences of premier Clark’s seemingly unfulfillable promises of an LNG economy for the province. The sudden change in market conditions caused major projects to withdraw and today there is only one major project, the Petronas led Pacific NorthWest LNG investment, that still might go ahead. It is clear, however, that Petronas cannot withstand the risks in the wider LNG future alone, as there are reports that it has offered a $1 billion stake in another gas project to Shell, ExxonMobil, Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production and Japanese firms. This has no direct bearing on the BC situation but it is an indication of the sensitivity of the LNG giant to the current market conditions. Meanwhile, auguring well for BC LNG and the Provincial Liberals, the Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla and the Kitselas First Nation have all signed benefits agreements in the context of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. Opposition by hereditary chiefs led by Yahan Wesley notwithstanding, first nations stakeholders have been signing on to the project, steadily shifting from the earlier refusal of offers of compensation. Of anecdotal interest is the fact that Malaysian leaders of the Pacific NorthWest LNG management team, who have thus far been behind the scenes, have started appearing in the BC media – Standing on the extreme right at the rear is Pacific NorthWest LNG chief operating officer and former Head of LNG Projects for PETRONAS, Wan Badrul Hisham.
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