There’s no better example of the kind of patience and quiet background maneuvering which mark the liquefied natural gas industry than the deal between pipeline builder TransCanada and the Nisga’a Lisims Government.
In return for TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline to cross through Nisga’a lands to a planned LNG plant near Prince Rupert, the Nisga’a obtained a number of benefits, the most intriguing of which is an option whereby TransCanada could expand its pipeline capacity for a LNG plant backed by the Nisga’a themselves.
What shape this option might take isn’t known – TransCanada says answers to questions of a commercial nature would be inappropriate – and the Nisga’a, who are quietly marketing their idea, would need to sign up a deep-pockets partner who could secure a gas supply, have the wherewithal to build a facility and find customers.
Substantive First Nations involvement in energy projects isn’t new – after nearly a decade of up and down business deals the Haisla at Kitimat are on the verge of success by participating in a barge-based LNG plant.
But the key message here is that inasmuch as LNG is an international industry marked by massive players in a huge-stakes environment taking years to unfold, there’s room for some kind of northwestern B.C. presence through area First Nations. And that stands to benefit us all.