I don’t think I could overstate how huge of a week it’s been for British Columbia. As I’m sure most of you have heard, North Vancouver’s ship building company SeaSpan was awarded the federal government’s non-combat ship building contract worth $8 billion.
The B.C Jobs Plan also took another step forward this week when the National Energy Board approved a 20-year export licence for the Kitimat LNG facility — the first licence of its kind in Canada. Shell also purchased a Kitimat property for the purpose of exploring Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) possibilities. The economic spinoffs of these announcements will be felt province-wide.
The shipbuilding contract involves building seven new vessels, including the Royal Canadian Navy’s joint support ships, along with Canadian Coast Guard’s off-shore science vessels and new polar icebreaker. This multi-billion dollar contract is expected to create more than 4,000 direct and indirect jobs over eight years, including 2,400 jobs at the shipyard alone. With the Kitimat LNG export licence now approved by the National Energy Board, B.C. can focus on securing necessary approvals and permits, while also making sure environmental standards are upheld and that First Nations are consulted in this process. A thriving LNG sector will benefit all of B.C. economically.
Shell’s purchase of the Methanex plant site in Kitimat is another step forward to opening up B.C.’s natural gas sector to growing Asian markets — one of the three main pillars in the B.C. Jobs Plan. The development of an LNG sector is important for B.C.’s long-term, job-creating success in northern and rural parts of our province. Opening up new export markets for B.C.’s natural gas will strengthen production and job creation, increase revenues, and raise our economic prospects. This recent move by Shell shows they are aware of the LNG potential, and that they want to be a part of B.C.’s growth plan for natural gas.
The positive economic shockwaves of these recent announcements will be felt across the province, and I for one am encouraged with the direction B.C. is heading.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.