The government of British Columbia has made LNG for export a cornerstone of its economic strategy. There is no question that Asia needs more energy.
So the future for Canada's LNG exports seems bright – but is it?
A ground-breaking report released by The School of Public Policy at a press conference and business lunch in Vancouver, provides an unprecedented analysis of the overall business case for LNG export from B.C.
The authors of the report, Michal Moore, Dave Hackett, Leigh Noda, Jennifer Winter, Roman Karski and Mark Pilcher argue that the market for LNG is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive.
"Producers around the world — including in the newly gas-rich U.S. — are racing to lock up market-share in the Asia-Pacific region, in many cases much more aggressively than Canada. While this market is robust and growing, the nature of the contracts for delivery will favour actors that are earliest in the queue. And, as supply grows, so too does the likelihood of falling gas prices in the Asia-Pacific region, making later projects less lucrative."
The authors also note a troubling lack of policy and regulatory co-ordination in Canada. Disagreements between governments over standards, processes and compensation in the potential LNG industry are stalling the approval of projects, like pipeline rights of way and agreements with First Nations.
The authors reserve strong criticism for the B.C. government's proposed LNG special tax, arguing this tax could negatively affect both the cost of financing and the ability to access markets in a timely fashion, and could very well kill the prospect of Canadian LNG export entirely.
Unless Canada wants to be shut out of the LNG market and stuck relying on a single U.S. gas export market, it has some serious work to do. But, as the authors stress, this isn't going to be easy. And time is running out.