Long time developer David Steele attended the Vancouver Board of Trade Energy Outlook 2015 conference on December 9 2015. What follows is a guest post detailing what he learned.
Slow At First
The energy conference certainly doesn’t paint the brightest picture of Alberta with capital spending having dropped from $81 Billion to $45 Billion in the last year and 40,000 lost jobs in the Alberta economy. The overall mood certainly wasn’t one of excitement with oil under $40 a barrel, a falling Canadian dollar and an energy industry that knows it has to change to keep up with the world demanding environmental changes.
The Pace Quickens
As the day progressed, it became evident that we are in a pretty good place in British Columbia and particularly Northeast BC. We heard a lot about natural gas and the clean energy that natural gas will deliver to Asia.
We heard that worldwide demand for natural gas is expected to increase 2 ½ times in the next 20 years. We also got a first-hand view of when Beijing’s city government issued its first red alert for pollution. The air quality index stood at 250 Tuesday morning, classed as “very unhealthy” and 10 times higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended levels.
We heard that we have an incredible abundance of natural gas in Northeast BC. The two natural gas plays-the Horn River and the Montney Basin have an astounding amount of gas. In fact, one of the experts stated that there is enough natural gas to heat every house in Canada for 8000 years. As the day wore on, we heard from panelists like Seaspan that are powering their Ferry fleets with natural gas and Vedder transport that are converting their trucking fleets as well. All of this was followed by an executive from Fortis BC showing off PowerPoint slides of the new one billion cubic foot natural gas storage facility that is just being completed in Tilbury.
The Highlight: What Everyone Came To Hear
When Rich Coleman, the minister of natural gas for British Columbia, took the stage at 12 noon, the mood became significantly more upbeat. He talked about all of the reasons that he felt British Columbia would become a major world player in the natural gas business. He talked about the fact that British Columbia has world-class ports and the cleanest natural gas process in the world. He talked about the fact that the natural gas business already employs over 13,000 people in British Columbia and he made it very clear that BC is 58 hours shorter shipping distance than any of its competitors. (JREI wrote about this in 2009)
He acknowledged that the BC government took huge steps as early as 2011 to attract companies that would build the infrastructure to take advantage of the opportunity to develop and export to Asia. Further, he made it abundantly clear that many in the media and across the aisle in government don’t believe that it will ever happen.(!) In the meantime, there are over 20 projects at various stages in the process. If they were all to go ahead, they would represent an investment estimated at $300-$400 billion.
During the question-and-answer period, the minister was asked,
“If you were a betting man, how many of the 21 LNG projects do you see proceeding?”
His answer was that he saw 3 major projects and two midsize projects being given final investment decision within the next year. He wouldn’t be surprised if we see $50- 75 billion dollars committed by the end of 2016.