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BC Premier Christy Clark not working hard enough for LNG fracking, energy expert says

Last week, some of the biggest players in the North American oil and gas markets gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver for the Canadian Oil and Gas Export Summit. While protesters outside the hotel yelled “No tankers, no pipelines, no tar sands,” industry insiders presented their visions for the future development of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, the Keystone XL pipeline, and Alberta tarsands oil.

This is the final part of a special three-part series on the summit.

BC Premier Christy Clark meets with the leaders of the Haisla First Nation at Kitamaat Village. Photo credit: BC government.

Premier Christy Clark has been busy promoting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) recently: she just came back from touring Asia to promote BC's LNG projects, and even suggested that the province's stringent climate targets can be compromised to pave the way for the industry.

Environmentalists decry the high cost of LNG (which involves hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking”) in terms of polluted water, massive power requirements and skyrocketing carbon emissions. Yet one energy expert believes Clark is not working nearly hard enough for their interests. 

“I continue to blast Christy and her government that they have not yet hired the proper staff to manage the growth expectation for LNG," said Bill Gwozd, vice president of gas services at Ziff Energy Group. called the Calgary-based Ziff Energy Group "one of the foremost research firms tracking the natural gas sector."

“They're still slow and archaic. They complain about budgets. They're not with the program yet. They have to spend the money and get staff to manage it properly."

Gwozd was at the summit to discuss the lucrative potential for British Columbia to become Canada's largest gas producer. He noted that Northeastern BC had the highest potential for growth, and that gas production in the province could "double, triple, quadruple" in the near future. 

He gave a data-rich presentation full of colorful language, referring to news publications as "rags" on several occasions. He forecasted that LNG in BC is poised for major growth in the upcoming years, due to its easy access to premium markets in Asia.

Kitimat "smack on the money" for LNG

“Folks in Kitimat have the right location. They're smack on the money. They're in areas where they're going to grow,” he said, noting the importance of BC's location on the Pacific Coast. “They have an unfair economic advantage over their counterparts in Gulf of Mexico.”

In his view, Northeast BC will experience an economic boom, the place where his fellow Albertans move for jobs.

"Northeast BC will grow. It's the place where Albertans will migrate to, and the Alberta government will migrate to the BC ministry. Alberta will shrink for gas potential, and BC is going to grow," he said.

Clark plans to have three LNG plants up and running by 2020, but Gwozd thinks the BC government is moving too slowly on this. The project could face significant political opposition because of its environmental consequences. A single LNG terminal and pipeline could put an estimated 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. Currently, the province is bound by law to cut greenhouse gases by 33 per cent below 2007 levels – also by the year 2020.

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