Voters didn’t see LNG benefits in 2013 election, says premier

Premier Christy Clark expects the Liberal chances in northwest in next election to be different than 2013 when all three seats went to NDP.

Christy Clark

PREMIER Christy Clark expects her governing Liberal party’s electoral chances in next year’s election to be different in the northwest than in 2013 when all three of the region’s seats went to the opposition New Democrats.

Speaking during a stop in Terrace last week, Clark said she wasn’t disappointed the North Coast, Skeena and Stikine ridings didn’t embrace her 2013 campaign promises that a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry would have taken root by now.

Instead, voters in 2013 may have failed to grasp the difference between the potential for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry of natural gas-carrying pipelines and plants and pipelines carrying crude oil from Alberta.

And they hadn’t yet experienced the impact of  multiple potential LNG projects spending money to develop their proposals, she said.

“I think people hadn’t seen the benefits of LNG yet and now that $20 billion has been spent by LNG developers already and they haven’t had a final decision and they’ve already spent $20  billion …, people are seeing, they’ve seen the benefit of that,” said Clark.

“The other thing though at the time because I think LNG was a pretty new idea there were a lot of people who thought the LNG proposal was the same as the Enbridge [Northern Gateway] proposal,” Clark continued.

“I remember being in the pub having dinner at the Terrace Inn and just talking to a bunch of guys there about LNG, you know, and they said, ‘Look, I’m sorry I’m not voting for you because we don’t want that oil pipeline’,” Clark said. “And I said ‘It’s not an oil pipeline it’s LNG.’ What’s the difference?

“[LNG] was a new idea and I think a lot of people didn’t differentiate. Of course there were a lot of people in this region, [I] think still are, who don’t want an oil pipeline but I think people now understand the difference in the region,” the premier added.

If anything, Clark said public perception about energy developments for the region in 2013 came down to “pipeline confusion” because both Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project and LNG proposals entered the public arena at the same time.

The premier also defended her 2013 campaign platform of saying there’d be one LNG plant built by now with two more to come on stream by 2020.

But that was before oil prices, which are linked to natural gas prices,  collapsed, she said. “Oil was $100 a barrel, so we’ve had some changes [since] then …,” said Clark. “This is going to be harder, and I think everybody knows, this is going to be a lot harder than in 2013 when oil was $100,” she said of any kind of LNG development in B.C.

But the one advantage B.C. has is “having the richest natural gas supply in the world. It’s easiest to get, it’s safe, it’s deep and it’s really high quality natural gas and it’s not going anywhere,” said Clark.

Even if projects aren’t realized in the next couple of years or perhaps longer, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to happen, added Clark.

“I want to see these projects go ahead as soon as possible,” she said. “In the next 14 years, 2.3 billion people [around the world] will join the middle class … which means they will be consuming a lot more energy per capita… We need to stay determined and keep working to make sure these projects go ahead,” Clark said.