SIEW 2014: 5Qs on energy and gas with Christy Clark, Premier, British Columbia, Canada

About Christy Clark
Christy Clark was sworn in for her second term as British Columbia’s 35th Premier on June 10, 2013 and was elected Westside-Kelowna MLA in a by-election on July 10, 2013.

Recognizing that British Columbia’s prosperity depends on strong trading relationships, Premier Clark has led five previous Jobs and Trade Missions to the Asia-Pacific region. She and her team are committed to further strengthening British Columbia’s place as Canada’s Pacific Gateway through strong ties with governments, industry and institutions in the region.

In her new mandate, Premier Clark has continued her relentless focus on strengthening the British Columbia economy through fiscal responsibility and economic development. Under her leadership, the British Columbia government continues to balance its budget by controlling spending, earning continued Triple-A credit ratings. She is working to seize British Columbia’s natural gas opportunity by offering Asia-Pacific countries a secure, stable source of cleaner energy.

1. Asia is a major consumer of energy and other natural resources. Against the backdrop of economies becoming increasingly interdependent, where do you see potential partnership opportunities between Canada and Asia on this front and what does “Building Energy Connections” mean to British Columbia?

It means an unprecedented opportunity to diversify our trade relationships, and play a major role in helping the growing economies of Asia meet their rising energy demands, while contributing to the fight against global warming.

Global demand for natural gas is expected to rise dramatically over the next 20 years – fuelled mostly by rapid economic growth in Asia. The rise in natural gas demand, particularly liquefied natural gas (LNG), will help countries in Asia move from coal or oil dependence to a clearer fossil fuel like natural gas. British Columbia won’t be the only supplier, but our LNG is going to play a major role.

2. British Columbia plans to put clean and alternative energy to the forefront as mentioned in your Energy Plan. How do you foster innovation in this sector to help us progress to a more sustainable energy future?

Clean energy producers play an important role in serving British Columbia’s electricity requirements, currently generating about 20 per cent of BC Hydro’s electricity supply.

Clean energy projects located throughout British Columbia use clean or renewable sources such as wind, water, biomass and waste heat. BC Hydro currently manages 82 electricity purchase agreements (EPAs) for clean energy projects in commercial operation, delivering more than 15,000 gigawatt hours per year.

For example, the AltaGas Forrest Kerr Project, a 195-megawatt run-of-river hydroelectric facility, will power a new transmission line opening this summer in our province’s northwest. It’s projected to attract up to $15 billion in mining investment and create up to 10,000 jobs.

There will be more clean energy projects in the years ahead. BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan, a 20-year power plan for the future, includes a clean energy strategy that supports British Columbia’s long-term vision for clean energy.

3. The development of technology to allow access to unconventional resources has increased Canada’s supply projections significantly.  How does this factor into British Columbia’s energy production?

It allows us to build on our strengths. For example, British Columbia has been safely extracting natural gas for decades. But shale gas prospects and the technology used to extract it have reshaped the exploration landscape, giving us access to a 150-year supply.

New methods and technology such as horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing have dramatically increased our potential, industry’s interest, and production.

4. In 2012 British Columbia announced new natural gas and LNG strategies.  How do you see British Columbia’s LNG sector gaining momentum and what are your plans to develop this sector?

British Columbia’s energy potential is increasing alongside global demand. We have set a goal of having three LNG facilities in operation by 2020.  This is within our reach.

Major players like PETRONAS and Shell are already planning ahead and moving towards final investment decisions. We hope to see at least one final investment decision by the end of this year, or early in the New Year. They’re moving forward because they recognize the scope of the opportunity here. That starts with British Columbia’s natural advantages, such as a shorter distance to market access with Asia, and a cool climate which means about 30 per cent less power to process LNG. They also recognize that British Columbia is a safe, reliable trading partner with a globally competitive foreign investment climate, a stable government with a triple-A credit rating, and a highly-skilled workforce.

5. British Columbia has many “greenfield” projects in contrast to LNG ventures in the Middle East and U.S. Gulf Coast where “brownfield” sites will be able to take advantage of existing infrastructure. What advantages does British Columbia provide, and what makes Canadian supply of energy attractive?

British Columbia has many advantages that make it an attractive place to do business. Our electricity rates are some of the lowest in North America, which lowers the cost of doing business and is obviously attractive to global investors. Commercial customers pay between the fourth and sixth lowest rates in the world, depending on the amount they use.

Existing infrastructure for some LNG projects could also be a component. For instance, the Woodfibre LNG project near the town of Squamish will be located on an existing pulp mill industrial site that closed in 2006. This “brownfield” site is well suited for a LNG facility. It has an existing gas pipeline, an electricity transmission line connected to the provincial BC Hydro transmission grid, an existing deep-water port – and is still zoned for industrial use.