Premier Clark's claims of thousands of LNG jobs 'grossly overstated' — CCPA report
Petronas' own estimates show that about 3,500 workers would be required at peak construction but the plant will only employ 200 to 300 full-time permanent workers.
Premier Christy Clark may be touting massive job opportunities with the B.C.-based LNG industry, but the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released a "reality check" report that disputes the numbers.
Clark has stated that the LNG industry as a whole would create 100,000 jobs, with 4,500 jobs in the Petronas-backed Pacific NorthWest LNG project alone.
But using LNG proponents' own job estimates, the LNG and Employment in BC report reveals that they are substantially lower than government claims, according to CCPA senior economist and author Marc Lee.
"In its submission to B.C.'s Environmental Assessment process, Petronas estimates that about 3,500 workers would be required at 'peak construction,’" says Lee. "After a short construction period, however, the plant will only employ 200 to 300 full-time permanent workers."
The employment figures are in line with Australia’s LNG experience, says Lee, who adds that Australia is well ahead of B.C. in the race to get LNG to world markets.
The 100,000 number first appeared in the February 2013 pre-election Speech from the Throne, based on a report from consultancy Grant Thornton (GT), commissioned by the government just weeks before the speech.
In its own report disclaimer, the consultancy firm points out that all the data was from the government itself, argues CCPA, and it also used the government's input-output model of the B.C. economy.
“There was no reason to hire GT aside from creating an appearance of independent analysis,” says Lee.
The analysis was problematic in that it included "the unlikely assumption" that five LNG plants will be built; it over-estimated the number of jobs per plant versus real-world comparators; and it included undisclosed assumptions about LNG facilities, according to the CCPA report.
"The paper also reviews many problematic features of input-output modeling, which is often used to justify mega-projects."
The GT study states that 2,400 LNG jobs — which Less says is "already an overstatement" – will create 72,800 new jobs elsewhere in the economy.
“This is simply unbelievable and contrary to the dynamics of any industry anywhere.”
The paper also reviews the growing use of "fly in, fly out" workers in major resource projects, noting that there is no guarantee that these jobs will go to British Columbians, and local economic benefits may be muted.
As the B.C. government looks for public input this month on its new Climate Leadership Team, Lee has a suggestion:
“B.C. could play a climate leadership role again by creating new jobs in transportation, building retrofits, clean energy and zero waste — all areas that will lower our greenhouse gas emissions, unlike LNG."