Petronas has released a statement about their Canadian LNG project probably because the speculative nature of the press reports from the past months that Petronas is considering walking away from the project.
Then there is the problem of the number of media outlets reporting about all the opposition and negative reaction to the project, not to mention all the special interest groups that include environmentalists and native rights activists.
If we were just reading the headlines and the first two paragraphs of the news as reported by some of these news outlets and websites, we wouldn’t have realised that actually there are strong support for the project, just that they have no media outlet for their voice.
Despite all the negative reporting, a number of supporters of the project actually include First Nation Leaders and municipal leaders of northwest British Columbia.
Excerpt from a Globe and Mail report date April 19 2016:
While Mr. Wesley, Mr. Lawson and several hereditary chiefs of the Lax Kw’alaams have been vocal in their opposition to Pacific NorthWest LNG, other hereditary chiefs have come out in support of the project.
Separately, mayors in northeastern B.C. have been supportive of LNG, too. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman and Tumbler Ridge Mayor Don McPherson were among the province’s political leaders who visited Ottawa this week to promote LNG exports.
Aboriginal backers of LNG include Alex Campbell and Robert Sankey, whose organization is called Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams. The anti-LNG camp complains that the new name is too similar to the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, which is the umbrella label for nine communities within the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation.
Tsimshian leaders of the Metlakatla, Kitselas, Gitxaala, Kitsumkalum and Gitga’at say they are open to the idea of LNG exports from Lelu Island.
“We believe that the government of Canada must now turn its attention to negotiating appropriate management conditions that ensure a strong role for First Nations in environmental monitoring, compliance and enforcement,” Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton said in a March 31 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We have balanced these considerations and are ready to move forward with strong environmental conditions.”
To actually say that there are widespread opposition to the project doesn’t make sense either as Garry Reece, the former mayor of Lax Kw’alaam who is strongly opposed to the project actually lost his re-election bid to John Helin, who supports the project.
The problem is, this is not simply a business decision, and for the Canadian government, an economic decision; it has become a political decision.
If we were to take the simple approach of counting the number of negative news reports and commentaries about the project, then we can assume that indeed there is massive opposition to the project.
However, if we actually look at the real situation of who actually support the project, then we will see a different picture altogether in British Columbia.
The Canadian government had already stated how much the British Columbia LNG project would boost the region’s economy.
The project will also create jobs and business opportunities for local suppliers and contractors to the project.
There are measures that can be taken, and has been proposed in the project proposals to protect and preserve the environment and balance of the surrounding ecosystem.
It is a matter of how much political risk the present government is willing to take as the long term benefit of the project will be seen long after the next elections and of course they have to wait for the final EA report to be completed.