At least one Opposition Member of Parliament is speculating that the Canadian government scrambled to approve a highly controversial, $36-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) megaproject in British Columbia last week before the project proponent could step away from the deal.
Shortly after Ottawa issued conditional approval for the Pacific NorthWest development, Reuters reinforced long-standing reports that Malaysian state oil and gas company Petronas was set to walk away from its position as majority shareholder in the deal. The company and the B.C. government vehemently denied the story, but New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen says the details don’t add up.
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“I’ve been trying to understand why they announced the way they did,” he said. “It was disorganized, it was panicked, and they had already flown out hereditary chiefs to Ottawa” for ministerial meetings that were then cancelled at the last minute. “This was a huge announcement, a big deal for Trudeau. Why the panic?”
“I think because Petronas was about to say, ‘we’re thinking of selling.’ They wanted to milk one last good news story out of it before reality hit and people realized Christy Clark’s [LNG] fantasy was nothing more than an attempt to get reelected.”
Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, said the story pointed to a “dizzying level of political posturing” by the federal and provincial governments. “Clearly they knew this was going to happen,” she told DeSmog Canada. “What other reason was there for their hasty press conference in Vancouver?”
Industry news site JWN Energy, meanwhile, ran a series of quotes earlier this week that showed divergent views on the viability of the Petronas project. “I think a [final investment decision] will be delayed,” said Gas Processing Management Associate Ed Kallio. “It’s just pretty hard to sanction that kind of spend when the economics are upside down.”
“Many people take a cursory look at the production in Canada and conclude that the basin won’t be able to compete,” said joint venture executive Darren Marine. “While many studies project Canadian production staying flat, the actual makeup of the gas in Western Canada is changing rapidly.”
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