Smithers Chamber of Commerce welcomed Trans Canada Vice President John Dunn to their monthly luncheon last Thursday to discuss the Pacific Northwest LNG pipeline that would transport natural gas from the North Montney region, near Fort St. John, to the recently-announced Pacific Northwest LNG export facility in Port Edward near Prince Rupert.
The project is one of 11 proposed natural gas pipelines currently up for review, though Dunn stressed that not all of them will be built.
When asked why British Columbians should favour the Trans Canada option over other proposed projects, Dunn pointed to his company’s long-standing working relationship in B.C.
“We have been dong business in B.C. for almost 50 years and I think that the citizens of Smithers and of the region can expect us to be a good corporate citizen. That’s our record elsewhere and that’s what we will see if we are successful moving this project forward.”
Dunn set out to assuage some of the fears that local residents might have over the proposed project.
“We would be using tried and true, conventional technology, the same technology that we are using for our 70,000 kilometres of pipeline currently being used in North America.”
He also explained the current gold rush mentality of pipeline building in B.C.
“A lot of people are asking why we are in a hurry to build these pipelines, asking why we don’t study some of the issues further. The problem is that if we delay, the ship will have sailed and someone else will have captured the market. That’s not a political statement, that’s just a fact.”
Dunn pointed to other markets, like Australia and Qatar, with vast natural gas reserves that could eventually develop their resources to compete in the Asian market.
The major purpose of the pipeline is to open liquid natural gas to emerging Asian markets, who are transiting off a reliance on coal.
Dunn expects the project to generate $24 million dollars annually in property taxes for the B.C. government, to go along with 2,500 temporary pipeline construction jobs and hundreds of extraction jobs.
Natural gas pipelines haven’t met the same opposition as proposed bitumen pipelines because the environmental risk is centralized the area of extraction, but environmentalists are concerned over the fracking methods used to produce the gas.
As a spokesperson for the pipeline itself, Dunn steered away from questions about extraction methods
“Questions around natural gas production are best left to the natural gas producer. But I would say that natural gas production has been going on well for over 50 years and it has been done safely and will continue to be done safely well into the future.”
The proposed area of gas exploration contains 449 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.