Chief Mi’sel Joe of the Miawpukek First Nation has a vision for exports to Europe of LNG from Newfoundland and Labrador, even if Prime Minister Trudeau doesn’t.
The PM declared a year ago that there has “never been a strong business case” for LNG exports from Canada’s East Coast to Europe; he proposed that, instead, Canada ship natural gas to the U.S. so the Americans can turn it into LNG and sell it to Europe.
Chief Joe: “Well, I think that’s a bunch of crap. We have to work on that one. We need to come together with some really good plan to make a presentation to the government.”
Trudeau’s lack of enthusiasm was delivered during a 2022 visit to Canada by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Scholz came looking for LNG from Canada so Germany could reduce its dependence on Russian gas, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now Germany is dealing with Qatar and other LNG suppliers.
Chief Joe now is pursuing direct discussions by his Nation with the German leader.
“We thought it be better to have direct nation-to-nation contact with Germany. We plan to meet with the chancellor to talk about the issues we have here, and maybe find funding that we can use.
“The plan that we have, which will materialize, I hope, is that we would visit Germany sometime next spring, or earlier. We’ve been talking with German officials, just to make sure we’re staying in the game.”
The Miawpukek First Nation has a 5% equity stake (“and we have an option to go bigger”) in LNG Newfoundland and Labrador Ltd., which proposes a $5.5-billion natural-gas liquefaction facility and marine export terminal at Arnold’s Cove, Placentia Bay, NL.
It would process gas that would come from the offshore Jean d’Arc Basin, south and east of St. John’s NL.
The Atlantic basin has five operating oil wells, but considerable natural gas remains to be tapped. LNG Newfoundland and Labrador would bring it to Arnold’s Cove by under-sea pipeline.
The company says its onshore plant would be powered with renewable hydroelectric energy. And “LNG NL’s liquefaction CO2 emissions will also be the lowest in the world.”
Chief Joe says of the project: “Right now, it’s slow going. Lack of funding, primarily. LNG can work here, given the right kind of funding. The drive is here to do it. The initiative is there. Right now, it’s lacking funding.”
His Nation (a little over 800 members on reserve and 22 off reserve) also has other irons in the fire.
“We have offshore vessels and we’re closest to the offshore fields. We look at that as a positive for us. And if you’re shipping out of Newfoundland, our territory is an ideal place to ship from, to places in Europe and other places around the world.”
As well, the Nation’s interest in maritime services could lead to the purchase of new vessels, jobs for seafarers to work those vessels, and revenue coming back to the south-coast community.
“Right now, we have 100% employment, but it takes a lot to maintain that 100%. So any revenue that comes back would also be paying for the maintenance of this community.”
And now the Miawpukek Nation also has just signed an agreement with Marathon Gold’s Valentine Gold Project in central Newfoundland and Labrador. It plans to be the largest gold mine in Atlantic Canada.
“We signed an agreement, to make sure we play a role in the environmental issues that surround that.” The Nation will also receive some employment. “We also have options to getting involved in terms of construction.”
The Miawpukek Nation is a member of the First Nations LNG Alliance.
“We are all alone here in Newfoundland. We’re only one First Nation. We realize that there’s strength in numbers, especially across the country. With numbers, we’re hoping that we can make some greater ground. It’s pretty difficult to make it from Newfoundland by ourselves.”
Chief Joe is hereditary Saqamaw and spiritual leader of his Nation, and is currently serving his 14th consecutive two-year term as elected Administrative Chief. He is also Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi’kmaq Grand Council.
In 2018, Chief Joe was awarded the Order of Canada for leadership in developing and enhancing the well-being and financial vitality of Miawpukek Nation.
Chief Mi’sel Joe
(Posted here 23 August 2023)