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Nisga'a join in on LNG hunt

A NISGA’A Nation delegation is going to an international energy conference and trade show in Korea next month, hoping to add its name to the list of those standing to benefit from B.C.’s potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

The attraction is four locations on the north coast the nation either owns outright or which it would hope to bundle with adjacent provincial crown land to present a large enough parcel to contain a LNG facility.

The Nisga’a feel the locations are suitable not only for LNG plants  but they also provide plenty of room for the  tankers which would dock at the facilities to load the  super-cooled fuel for transport to Asian customers.

Two pipeline companies are already surveying land and marine routes through Nisga’a territory for two companies hoping to build LNG plants near Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

Other energy companies, Woodside from Australia and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, through a subsidiary, have taken out options on provincial Crown land at Grassy Point near Prince Rupert for plants of their own.

Nisga’a Lisims Government executive chair Kevin McKay says one of the keys to the Nisga’a proposal is that companies can avoid the cost of further land or marine pipeline construction south to the Prince Rupert area once those pipelines reach the Nisga’a-owned coastal locations from gas fields in northeastern B.C.

“The [2000] Nisga’a Final Agreement gives us unique opportunities,” said McKay of the ability of the Nisga’a to negotiate on land and other resources with companies. “With self government, we do have the wherewithal.”

The ability of companies to have certainty stemming from the treaty goes hand in hand with the treaty ensuring Nisga’a rights and interests are represented and protected, McKay said.

McKay acknowledged that the Nisga’a are on a steep learning curve considering there are now three LNG proposals centering on Kitimat with locations already established in addition to the two – and possibly more – locations in the Prince Rupert area.

“But that is our obligation, to learn more. We do feel there is a window of opportunity,” he said. “There are no final investment decisions yet and may the best proposal win on its merits.”

While that does bring out the competitive nature of doing business, McKay said the Nisga’a Final Agreement offers the Nisga’a Nation the opportunity to operate within a market economy.

“We have an obligation to pursue sustainable development for the Nisga’a Nation,” he said.

McKay did add that it is still too early to indicate what kind of economic arrangement the Nisga’a would strike with any particular LNG company.

The Haisla near Kitimat have already struck a deal with Chevron-majority owned Kitimat LNG to use Bish Cove, which is on Haisla reserve lands, as a plant and loading facility.

In return, the Haisla will be in line for a variety of economic benefits, including taxation and jobs.

They also have an equity share in a proposed small floating LNG facility in the Kitimat area.

Both proposals now have regulatory and environmental approval from the federal and provincial governments but final investment decisions have yet to be made.

And the Nisga’a are not the only ones looking to locate a LNG facility in their neighbourhood.

Kitsault Energy, a company owned by Krishnan Suthanthiran, who also owns the former mining town of Kitsault on Alice Arm north of the Nisga’a locations, is also looking for LNG customers.

Its sales pitch is similar to that of the Nisga’a in that a route to Kitsault from northeastern B.C. is shorter than to other coastal locations.

But instead of a land-based LNG facility, Kitsault LNG is marketing the Kitsault location as one suitable for a floating LNG plant.

The international energy gathering in Korea, being held in the country’s capital of Seoul, is called the 2014 Gastech Conference and Exhibition and is billed as the largest conference of its kind in the world.

Gastech is held every 18 months and this is the first time it has been held in Korea.

A prime sponsor of the event is Kogas, short for Korea Gas. It’s a partner with two other Asian companies and Shell Canada in a project called Canada LNG which has chosen Kitimat as a location.

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