Gas Plans Could Revive B.C. Economy

B.C. natural gas | BCBusiness
An oversupply of B.C. natural gas has caused prices to plummet. But a new pipeline to B.C.’s north coast could make shipping the province’s abundant supply of shale gas to energy-hungry Asia a reality.

TransCanada’s plans to ship shale gas to LNG facilities on B.C.’s north coast for shipping to Asia could lift B.C.’s economy from its current funk.

The recent announcement that TransCanada has been selected to build a $5-billion pipeline to the B.C. coast indicates that it’s full-speed ahead for B.C.’s natural gas industry.

While most B.C. residents are focused — mostly negatively — on the Northern Gateway heavy oil pipeline, gas producers in the province are quietly going about their plans to ship B.C.’s new-found shale gas to Asia.

Interestingly, the pipeline will be built for Progress Energy, recently taken over (after the federal government’s long-awaited approval) by Malaysian state-owned firm Petronas.

Progress is also proposing to build a processing facility near Prince Rupert that will convert the gas to a liquid state so it can be shipped by tanker.

TransCanada was also chosen to build another gas pipeline to an LNG plant in Kitimat.

The announcement drew much comment from financial analysts that the pipeline company is shifting its focus from the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline between Alberta and refineries in the southern U.S. That proposal drew massive opposition in the U.S. and was put in abeyance by President Barack Obama before his re-election in November.

If the plan to ship B.C.’s shale gas to Asia is indeed top of mind for TransCanada, then environmentalists have scored a victory in a sense. To all but the most ardent of environmentalists, natural gas is considered much safer to deliver than oil.

The upgraded plans will also provide a boost to the B.C. economy, which has been languishing because new fracking methods to reach shale gas have created an oversupply of natural gas in North America.

As a result, the price of gas has plummeted, impacting the annual revenues the province gets from natural gas that is so far delivered only to North America. Prices for gas are much higher in Asia.

It may be too late for the current government, but it now appears that happy economic days may come again soon to B.C.