B.C. in ‘good shape’ to close $10-billion LNG deal: Premier

B.C. is in “good shape” to lure Malaysia’s state-owned energy company into a final investment decision for a proposed $10-billion liquefied natural gas plant, says Premier Christy Clark.

Clark said she would not publicly disclose the substance of negotiations Monday between her government and Petronas CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas, who was in Vancouver for high-level meetings over his company’s proposed Pacific Northwest LNG export facility near Prince Rupert.

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Instead, she said her government has done all it can to encourage LNG proponents, like Petronas, by passing legislation last week that outlines the province’s taxes and environmental reporting expectations for LNG projects.

“We’ve gotten a tax structure that works, we’ve got an environmental compliance structure that works, so we’re getting close, I think,” Clark said when asked about the Petronas meeting.

“They will decide when they want to make that final investment decision. We can’t control that they’ve got a lot of partners. But all we can do is try and create the right environment and I think we’re in good shape.”

Negotiations need to happen “in confidence,” said Clark. “We can only look after the pieces we’re in control of,” she said. “We’ll let the negotiators finish off the rest of the details.”

Abbas was not available for an interview, and Pacific Northwest LNG issued a short statement that said “the project has made good progress with the provincial government and discussions continue.”

Abbas told reporters in Malaysia before he left for B.C. that he wanted to obtain clarity on the project, in order to make a final investment decision by the end of December.

LNG Minister Rich Coleman met with Abbas in Vancouver on Monday.

“We had a productive meeting with Petronas officials today,” Coleman said in a statement. “I’m confident in the work being done and look forward to a continued working relationship.”

B.C. has had a volatile public relationship with Petronas. Abbas threatened to call off the project in October, amid what he described as Canada’s regulatory delays, and a lack of incentives and stability.

Petronas is leading the Pacific Northwest LNG project near Prince Rupert. The company holds a 62 per cent stake in the project. Its partners include China’s Sinopec with a 15 per cent stake, Japex Montney with 10 per cent, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. with 10 per cent, and Petroleum-Brunei with three per cent.

The B.C. government granted environmental approval to the Pacific Northwest LNG export terminal and pipeline last week, but the project still needs federal environmental approval.

The B.C. government’s goal is to get at least five LNG plants operational. During the provincial election, the Liberals promised an LNG industry would generate up to $1 trillion in revenue, fill a $100-billion prosperity fund and pay off the province’s debt, but industry analysts say they think fewer than five plants will be built.

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