Skeena MLA and the BC Liberal energy critic Ellis Ross was in Ottawa last week promoting B.C.’s future potential in supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to European markets plagued by a severe energy crisis.
Ross met with federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre in Ottawa as well as representatives from the German embassy on Oct. 21, to highlight how Indigenous-backed energy projects in northwest B.C. such as LNG Canada, Cedar LNG and Ksi Lisims LNG, might be a solution to the ongoing global energy crisis.
Ross has also asked Poilievre to push the federal government to extend more support for First Nations-backed energy projects in B.C.
“There’s an energy crisis on one hand and a race against time to reduce emissions on the other,” Ross said, adding, “British Columbia’s LNG projects can be an answer to solve both these problems in the future.”
Representatives of the federal government have also committed to meeting with him in Vancouver to continue the discussions, he said.
In August, while then-German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Canada, Ross had also invited him to B.C. to tour the $40 billion LNG Canada facility being constructed in Kitimat on Haisla territory. While the German chancellor did not make it to Kitimat, Ross did go and meet with German envoys in Vancouver.
Germany is facing one of its worst energy crises in decades after its primary gas supplier, Russia, declared war on Ukraine earlier in February and turned off the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. And while the country goes back to burning coal and trying to meet its emission reduction goals, Ross said he suggested a “cleaner” alternative in natural gas to the German envoy.
Ross said the priority of his meetings in Ottawa were to set up a relationship between First Nations in B.C. and Germany/Europe to talk about energy crisis and possibly find a way to work together.
The goal is also to market First Nation-backed projects in his home turf – LNG Canada, Cedar LNG, Ksi Lisims LNG –as options to combat a global supply crisis in the future.
But while the former Haisla chief councillor and current Skeena MLA is pushing for supply to Europe in the future, the more than $40 billion facility in Kitimat (on Haisla territory) is yet to be completed.
LNG Canada’s newly-minted CEO Jason Klein, had said earlier in October that phase 1 of the project had reached 70 per cent completion. Without giving a date as to when the project will be complete and ready to start exporting natural gas, primarily to Asian markets, Klein said phase 1 is on track to be operational mid-decade.
Supplying to European markets is not on LNG Canada’s agenda yet, however, owing to logistics.
Phase 1 will see 14 million tonnes of LNG produced every year and phase 2 will see the annual production increase to 28 million tonnes.
While LNG Canada has not given out a date yet for completion of Phase 2, Ross said it was pushed to 2030, and this “does not make sense” based on the timeline he was given by LNG Canada during the initial phase of negotiations of the project.
“Somebody is not telling us the reality of what [challenges] LNG Canada is facing to get to full capacity,” Ross said.
In the same breath, Ross is calling on B.C.’s NDP-led government to follow in the footsteps of the federal government and fast tract economically viable energy projects in the province.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced earlier in October that Canada will address regulatory hurdles and fast-track energy and mining projects for the sake of economic development, to support its democratic allies in the combat against autocratic regimes and achieve its own net-zero emission goals.
“If we want to be part of the global solution, we in British Columbia have a duty to get our act together and make that global supply readily available,” he said pointing out to the dozens of energy projects that the province after facing regulatory hurdles among other challenges.
“The provincial NDP government has made it quite clear that investments are not welcome in B.C. Eighteen LNG projects were proposed; we’re left with one. The ones that hung around were fully endorsed by First Nations –Woodfibre (Squamish Nation), Cedar LNG (Haisla Nation), KSI LNG (Nisga’a Nation).”
If B.C. wants to welcome back those investments they need to send signals that involve easing these regulatory hurdles, Ross said.
“But this government [BC] does not want to send that signal,” he added.
“It’s politics. With all that talk about reconciliation, why are they [B.C. government] still not endorsing First Nations-backed projects?”
-With files from Michael Bramadat-Willcock