Blog: Faint hopes for East Coast LNG exports?

As hopes for LNG exports via the East Coast hang in the balance, there were reports that Ottawa and Quebec might both be willing, somehow, to give them a chance.

This as political pressure on both governments rose, citing Germany’s pleas for Canadian LNG.

National Post reported: “The possible revival of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Quebec could be shaping up to be a wedge issue in the provincial election, with Premier François Legault facing pressure to reconsider his position given Europe’s urgent need for this resource.”

Quebec Conservative leader Éric Duhaime lambasted Legault for a “monumental mistake” in having quashed GNL Quebec’s Énergie Saguenay project in 2021. Duhaime said this forfeited billions of dollars in revenue from European countries trying to find alternatives to Russia’s fossil fuel.

Duhaime said it must be an issue in Quebec’s provincial election on Oct. 3. “On October 3, we consider it to be a referendum. The ballot question is: ‘Are you for or against the LNG project?’”

There was no response from Legault, or from Ottawa.

There was a campaign promise from federal Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre, who has said for months that he would reverse Ottawa’s rejection this year of Énergie Saguenay.

(GNL Quebec proposed to build a 780-kilometre pipeline to carry Western Canadian natural gas to the region north of Quebec City, and then build a hydro-powered liquefaction plant to produce LNG, and load it onto LNG carriers at the port of Saguenay. It spoke of exporting 11 million tonnes of LNG a year.)

Now Poilievre has added this via Twitter: “Trudeau is wasting the opportunity of a generation, saying NO to billions of $, NO to more paycheques for our people, NO to energy security for us & our allies. As PM, I’ll scrap his anti-energy laws & champion Canadian energy.”

But even if Poilievre did become prime minister, he would still have to face Quebec’s formal rejection of the Énergie Saguenay project.

That rejection came in 2021 with Quebec saying that the project’s economic benefits did not outweigh its potential negative environmental and social impacts.

Says Poilievre: “There needs to be a permit from the Quebec government and that won’t change. But I will work with the Quebec government to convince them that it is better to produce that energy here in Canada, instead of giving that market to Putin.”

And he added (in French): “GNL Québec is a project that can lower the price of energy, reduce the dependence of our European allies on Russian (gas), and create jobs in the region. I will continue to support it and support the development of our natural resources.”

Quebec itself has said GNL Quebec is welcome to apply again, but nothing has come of that.

Still, hopeful commentators and analysts are keeping up some political pressure on the feds and the Quebec government.

  • Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary: “The ‘political case’ not the ‘business case’ against LNG is costing Canada billions in GDP:
  • Olivier Rancourt, an economist with the Montreal Economic Institute: “Canada must begin to export green-energy natural gas to Europe.”
  • Ian Madsen, senior policy analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy:Trudeau is wrong. LNG development is feasible. Canada has to step up to the plate and help its allies.”
  • Ex-MP George Cooper and Kevin Lynch, former clerk of the privy council: “Trudeau shuns golden LNG opportunity”:
  • Columnist Bruce Uzelman: “Governments in Canada, both provincial and federal, should unequivocally support the provision of Atlantic and/or Western gas to the East coast, and the development of LNG facilities on both coasts. It is a clear choice, and a clean choice.”
  • Friendly Energy: “LNG from Canada can help solve the long-term challenge of rising global demand.”

And Premier Andrew Furey of Newfoundland and Labrador has spoken in favour of the $10-billion LNG Newfoundland & Labrador Ltd. project. It’s also supported by the Miawpukek First Nation and the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. It would look to 2030 target to start deliveries.

Meanwhile, we are stuck with Prime Minister Trudeau’s proposal that we meet some European demand by exporting natural gas to the U.S., which would process it into LNG and sell that to Europe.

As we noted in our last newsletter, this means we continue to sell natural gas to the US at $3 a unit, and the U.S. resells it at $10 or more as LNG shipped from Texas. This would cost Canada billions of dollars in revenue.

(Posted here 08 September 2022)

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