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Mayor’s Report – January 28, 2015

Meet the Mayor

January 28, 2015


From slushy downtown Prince George to you: It’s the 12th annual Premier’s BC Natural Resource Forum and I am spending my evening in the Coast Inn of the North – not a bad place if one has to stay a night or two in BC’s Northern Capital, but there’s no place like home.

I’m always fascinated by the high-level reports on developments in the various industries that keep the bread on our tables and the gas in our tanks and I’ll share two of the highlights with you.

Bill Downing, President of Structurlam Products in Penticton, a manufacturer of engineered wood building components demonstrated that just about any type of building using complex geometric forms to long spans can be constructed safely from wood. Pound for pound, their wood products are stronger than steel. Such innovative uses of wood bodes well for the forest industry. We are blessed in Chetwynd to have a healthy forest industry.

Of course, natural gas and, especially LNG, one of BC’s potential exports that could, in years to come, radically change the face of industry right across the north, received a lot of attention. In Chetwynd we are not sitting directly over the main upstream gas reserves that will supply the LNG plants on the coast but a vibrant LNG industry in the north east will have long-term and significant spinoff results for Chetwynd.

The question that industry and government has to address: how fast can we resolve all the outstanding issues and bring north-east gas on stream. It’s not an idle question. Australia already is an exporter of LNG and needs only to expand its facilities. US LNG facilities on the Gulf Coast are already under construction. And here is a detail that has escaped the scrutiny of most of us: in the last five years, production of natural gas in a tiny sliver of the US north east has gone from 0 cubic feet per day to 13 billion cubic feet per day – more that the output of all western Canada. Industry and government concur that the window of opportunity for British Columbia LNG is not ten years, or even five years, but more like two years. It’s reason to pause and ask at least two more questions.

How realistic is our LNG dream? Can British Columbia compete globally?

The answers came from the presidents and vice presidents of the industries in the front running for delivering the gas. Though Petronas has postponed its Final Investment Decision (FID), the company has not ceased to carry out the prep work that will lead to that FID. Because Petronas has spent by far the most in developing its proposal, in design work, and in consultation with First Nations, the company is considered the industry bellwether and a positive decision will likely be the key to move the entire LNG industry forward.

Industry leaders expressed cautious optimism that a positive decision will be announced in the latter half of 2015.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor