Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is focused on what matters to Canadians - jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That means creating new opportunities in the natural-resources sector that directly and indirectly employs 1.6 million Canadians.
Last week, I led a mission to Japan and South Korea with industry representatives to advance the immense opportunity of exporting liquefied natural gas from British Columbia.
We are already the thirdlargest producer of natural gas in the world market and a fully developed service sector continues to propel Canada's upstream naturalgas industry forward. However, we do not export LNG outside North America.
Japan represents 33 per cent of the LNG market and Korea an additional 15 per cent. The Japanese government recently announced its intention to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce its reliance on nuclear energy by 2030. This creates the need to find additional energy that Canada is wellpositioned to fill.
Five LNG projects are being developed on our Pacific Coast, including three at Kitimat that are planned to be in service between 2014 and 2019.
Additional LNG export terminals and related pipeline infrastructure are being proposed for Prince Rupert.
Based on projects proposed, Canada could export the equivalent of nine billion cubic feet per day of natural gas as LNG, or 66 million tonnes a year, worth tens of billions of dollars to our GDP. Comparing that to Japan's current imports of 83 million tonnes demonstrates the size of the potential market.
So these LNG projects are of major economic importance to British Columbia and to Canada. They are also of significance for the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, there is great complementarity of interests. Canada needs to open new markets and Japan and Korea need to diversify their sources of supply over the long term.
Of course, we are not guaranteed access. We need to be nimble in a highly competitive market. That is why I was encouraged by the very positive feedback I received about our initiative to modernize our regulatory system through the responsible resource development legislation we passed in the last session, against the votes of the opposition parties. An efficient regulatory system that is predictable, timely and safe for the environment is a precondition to competitiveness.
Canada also has strong fundamentals, a stable political system, an attractive tax rate and a regulatory system that does not discriminate against foreign investors who have been accepted as a net benefit to Canada. Therefore, we are a destination of choice for Japanese and other foreign investors. This is important, since we do not have adequate capital to finance the enormous projects we foresee in the next 10 years, more than 600 projects requiring $650 billion in investment.
In a global economy that remains fragile, it is crucial that we stay focused on our plans to keep Canada's economy strong and growing. Opening a new market for an important Canadian resource will advance that goal, create thousands of jobs for British Columbians and provide millions of dollars to governments to support crucial social programs.
Joe Oliver is Canada's minister of natural resources.
© Copyright 2013