It’s a 21st century version of a medicine show and it hits the CN Roundhouse and Conference Centre at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park on Dec. 16-17 in Squamish.
It’s called the Regional LNG Seminar and it’s intended to sell the locals on the merits of the new industry that Premier Christy Clark has staked her political future on.
Before her BC Liberals won surprise re-election in May 2013, she hyped an industry that she said would be worth $1 trillion. The fall 2014 throne speech said it now is “a chance — not a windfall.” Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas put its Pacific NorthWest LNG plant near Prince Rupert on hold. Meanwhile, next July, B.C. Place Stadium will host soccer’s Women’s World Cup final amid advertising by official FIFA sponsor Gazprom — the Russian state oil and gas giant that inked a $400 billion deal earlier this year with China. If China can import Russian resources by pipe, why would it want to wait for tankers to arrive from across the Pacific?
But I digress. Clark’s $150,000-a-year LNG salesman Gordon Wilson is expected to be in Squamish. He’s the ex-Liberal leader who campaigned for Clark during the 2013 election while he was facing serious financial problems.
The two-day sales spiel includes a Science World Energy Show, a presentation on Safe Management of LNG Shipping in B.C.’s Coastal Waters, a Government Panel Dialogue and a Proponent Panel Dialogue. Funny, I’ve looked at the agenda with a microscope and I still don’t see an “Opponent Panel Dialogue.” Day two will feature another Science World Energy Show and LNG-Buy B.C. Contractor-Supplier Bootcamp. The controversial involvement of Science World has also raised some eyebrows among opponents; it counts Fortis and BC Hydro among major donors.
Both days include WorkBC’s Find Your Fit Career Experience (with a live LNG demonstration every hour) and Drop in LNG Info Zone with the Oil and Gas Commission and Industry Training Authority. I look forward to eventually reporting on the final cost of this propaganda tour and the contractors that profited.
The stop in Squamish, the fifth of seven cities, is particularly strategic. The proposed Woodfibre LNG plant at the old Western Forest Products pulp mill wouldn’t be the biggest LNG plant if it goes ahead, but it would be the most important because it would be within a two-hour drive for half the province’s population and its biggest broadcast media outlets. Clark desperately needs at least one LNG plant ready for the 2017 election. The Fortis pipeline-fed Woodfibre LNG is facing a growing local opposition from area residents who aren’t keen on the tanker traffic, air pollution or the owner.
Pacific Oil and Gas of Singapore hired former Enron executive Anthony Gelotti to run Woodfibre LNG. Despite its bumph about being Canadian-owned, the company is ultimately owned by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto. This is is his own website. This is not his website, which contains information harshly critical of his treatment of the environment and workers.