Blog

Blog: LNG and careers, not just jobs

0

While we support the responsible development of natural gas and LNG, and the benefits that can mean for First Nations, decisions on development are, in the end, made by the First Nations themselves, and rightly so.

But that can be a thoroughly complicated process under the varying forms of First Nation governance: Who makes the decision? An elected band council? A hereditary chief, or chiefs? A referendum among band members? All or some of the above?

It’s even more complicated when we are not yet clear on how implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) will unfold in Canada.

We believe that UNDRIP can offer not a legalistic battlefield of rights, but an opportunity to implement in Canada the concept and long-overdue practice of “collaborative consent.”

You can read that collaborative concept into the important joint report we prepared with the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resource on recommendations for the future of LNG projects and ongoing engagement with First Nations.

The report finds that there is “a high degree of support for LNG projects” among First Nations in BC, and notes: “If LNG projects are done in a way that respects First Nation interests, they will be the most safe, environmentally rigorous, and human rights-compliant projects in the world.”

Education, training, and “sustainable/long-term jobs instead of intense short-term labour opportunities” comprise a key issue among several explored in the report. In short: careers not jobs.

“Many First Nations view LNG projects as an important opportunity to improve poor socio-economic conditions in their communities. Employment and economic opportunities are required for communities to be sustainable and healthy.

“It cannot be overemphasized how the issues of employment and training are critical for these communities. Concerns were raised in relation to the type of jobs and training available to First Nations from proposed LNG projects.”

The report comes up with a number of suggestions in this vital area:

  • Evaluate and consider renewing or expanding the $30-million Aboriginal Skills Development Fund, which has been successfully implemented.
  • First Nations and governments should co-create more strategic skill development plans to target higher quality operational jobs.
  • All parties should look for ways to enhance success through tools such as job matching, job coaching, and mentorship.
  • BC should explore the creation of an LNG training facility in BC like the CATCH training facility operating in the UK – follow-up with Haisla should occur after their site visit to CATCH UK with local government, Kitimat Valley Institute and training partners.
  • BC should create a provincially supported point-person to develop and manage a strategy for Indigenous labour-market development, including the support and planning for a lifecycle of job types (higher level, technical, support jobs) and procurement that will be required to support an LNG project.

And the report concludes:

“The number of existing LNG facility, pipeline, and upstream agreements proves that LNG projects can comply with government’s intent to seek and achieve Indigenous consent. This is not easy work, and there are barriers, but the amount of progress made in recent years is considerable.

“British Columbia’s ongoing leadership in responsible natural resource development and engagement with First Nations is an example to the country and the world in relation to respecting the environment and Indigenous rights.”

The report is well worth a read. Again, you’ll find it as a PDF at https://bit.ly/2MfHbGm.

And we hope there’s more to come in partnership with the BC government. More, too, in our next blog.

Pipeline benefit: a cultural revival

0

The benefits the Wet’suwet’en First Nation looks for from natural-gas pipeline proponents are typical—jobs, training, education, and revenue to the community.

But councillor Erwin Tom lights up as he talks of an unusual benefit: cultural revival and reinforcement.

As with many other nations, some traditional practices had faded. There’s not been that much in recent years of hunting and trapping, for example, and the Indigenous language became pretty much limited to elders.

Enter the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline project. It proposes a 670-km gas pipeline, from the Dawson Creek area to the proposed LNG Canada facility near Kitimat. It would run clear across unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in north-central BC.

“When I first got onto council my hope was to bring more culture back into our Nation,” says Tom. “We had no hunters. We had no trappers. We had nobody providing meat for the elders. This is all essential to First Nations, and we were losing it. From the residential school, we lost a lot of our ways.

“When I went to look at the pipeline control station in Calgary, the lady that was giving us the tour asked me what did I see that CGL could help out on. We put together a proposal for a culture camp. And when we first started working on it, it was the first one to be done, I guess, across Canada.

“The whole Nation goes to our culture camp. We go out on the land. One year we went and camped by a lake and did hiking, and berry-picking, and the elders taught the younger generation how to make and cook bannock on a fire, and they taught them how to make home-made hammocks, and they put the babies in them, in the old way.

“A lot of our elders got together with our youth, so from the elders they started hearing more of our language. And I started taking guys out hunting with me, and bringing meat to our elders in the way it used to be done, and now we have more people hunting.

“It’s a pretty awesome feeling when you look around our Nation, and you see more people getting out on the land. And it’s neat to see that we’re starting to speak more and more of our language.”

Under a benefits agreement, there will be financial benefits coming after CGL makes its Final Investment Decision. CGL also has benefits agreements with other First Nations along the pipeline corridor. And the BC government will also be sharing out more revenue if the pipeline goes ahead.

Tom says jobs and training are indeed important for the Wet’suwet’en, and its 255 members who live on and off reserve lands.

“That’s what I see out of LNG and pipelines, on the plus side. A lot of people think of the jobs being short-term jobs, but when you look at it, you get trades training and qualifications under your belt. And that’s not short-term, that’s long-term, that’s lifetime.

“You can take that ability that you have and go anywhere, and adapt, to any city or place where the job goes. Once you get the trade, you get your Red Seal ticket, and you could even go international if there are big jobs on the other side of the world.”

What about benefits to the Wet’suwet’en First Nation as a whole?

“The pipelines came to all the Nations seeking approval and working towards agreements. In the past, though, big resource companies never did that; they just built, with no accommodations or benefits or anything.

“If a Final Investment Decision goes through, there will be annual payments coming to the Nation, and that will greatly improve the way of life on the reserve—everything from housing to education.”

Some benefits came right away, long before any final investment decision on the pipeline.

“We made some good partnerships. We had people at work with us. We’ve been doing archaeology work, we’ve been doing stream-assessment work, vegetation studies, wildlife monitoring. There’s a lot of different aspects when you get out into the territory.

“We had people from our Nation in each one of those studies. We had elders go out, too. They know about the land, because they grew up on it and learned about it. It’s pretty fascinating when you hear them; you’ll go out to a certain point, to a mountain or a tree, and they have a special name for it, and it has a special meaning for our people.”

What comes now?

“We’ve been around to other Nations. We had five regional sessions that other Nations were interested in. Some of them had signed agreements three years ago and they had gone on the shelf waiting for an FID.

“What’s happened recently is that Premier Horgan is willing to do some tax-breaks for LNG and the pipelines. To me that seems positive for a pipeline actually going through.”

The Wet’suwet’en Nation

Coast GasLink Pipeline

LNG Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Posted here 13 May 2018)

Huu-ay-aht look to LNG to help ‘close the gap’

0

Huu-ay-aht First Nations, a modern treaty Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island, really understand sustainable and profitable business.

Forestry and fisheries are among key foundations of the strategic plan for the self-governing nation of close to 750 people. Tourism, mining, renewable power, and port development are further possibilities.

For the next step now, there’s an ambitious LNG development, a project named Kwispaa LNG, that Huu-ay-aht First Nations is developing through a unique “co-management relationship” with Vancouver-based energy company Steelhead LNG.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. says Kwispaa LNG offers Huu-ay-aht First Nations “an incredible opportunity.”

“It provides an opportunity for a benefits agreement, which we already have negotiated. It provides a significant amount of accommodation of Huu-ay-aht interests, which we have already negotiated.

“For example, we are already doing fisheries renewal enhancement projects, through the Steelhead LNG project. We intend to have a response centre for any marine events, and we accommodate our interests by being part of the project.

“We have a co-management approach to this project. For example, we have an oversight board that consists of three Huu-ay-aht (representatives) and three from Steelhead LNG; and that’s exactly what it is, an oversight board that oversees the over-all project. And myself, I sit on the actual corporate board (of Steelhead LNG).

“And then we also were able to negotiate employment opportunities in the project, contract opportunities also.’

It is all much needed, says Chief Robert.

“The economic picture goes like this: In order for Huu-ay-aht First Nations to close the existing economic and social gap, we estimate that we would need — at the very least — $250 million over the next 10 years.

“And I say to myself, ‘Where am I going to get $250 million?’ I know the feds aren’t going to say, ‘Well, Huu-ay-aht, here’s $250 million; go do what you want.’ And also I know the province isn’t going to come to the Nation and say, ‘Here. Huu-ay-aht, here’s the money you need.’ I’m sure as I’m sitting here that’s not going to happen.

“We have to find some way to do this. And this (LNG) is one of the ways that provides economic opportunity and will help us close that economic and social gap.”

The Kwispaa LNG facility will include a combination of “at-shore” infrastructure— ship-like floating liquefaction units with integrated LNG storage that are moored to jetties in the water to reduce environmental impact—and onshore components.

In recent progress, Steelhead LNG has shortlisted four contractors who will compete to carryout the FEED (front-end engineering and design) work on the facility. Steelhead LNG is also looking to work with Hyundai Heavy Industries to  supply two hulls for the at-shore units.

There’s more to come, including a 1,000-km pipeline to bring in Canadian natural gas from northeast BC and northwest Alberta to Kwispaa LNG. Throughout the engagement process, Huu-ay-aht is taking a traditional approach that respects its culture and ancestors.

How did Steelhead approach Huu-ay-aht, and what then?

“I would say from the Huu-ay-aht perspective it was a very good approach,” says Chief Robert.

“(Steelhead LNG) approached us on an up-front basis. They didn’t come to us and say, ‘Oh, here’s our plan.’ They didn’t throw it on our desk and say, ‘Now we expect a comment from you.’ It was a different approach.

“They said ‘Huu-ay-aht, we’d like to do an LNG project on your lands.’ And the (Huu-ay-aht) government at the time said, ‘Yes, we’ll consider it, and we’ll go get a vote from our citizens.’

“And the vote from our citizens, the first vote, was to seek approval to explore an LNG operation on our lands. And then we had a second vote, a second referendum, that was agreeing that that particular LNG facility can be on our lands. The first vote passed with about a 65% majority, and the second one passed with a 70%-plus majority.

“We had another vote, and that was on disposition of the land for the project, at our peoples’ assembly last November. And they voted to dispose the lands for an LNG facility. . . . and it passed unanimously.”

The Huu-ay-aht also decided to join the First Nations BC LNG Alliance. Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the Alliance: “We’re delighted to have Chief Robert and the Huu-ay-aht Nations as part of our Alliance. They have worked with Steelhead LNG to set up a unique co-management agreement with Steelhead on the Kwispaa project. That could be a model for other First Nations to look at.”

The Huu-ay-aht are an amalgamation of several small nations. The home community is the village of Anacla, close to Bamfield.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and one of the five First Nations signatories to the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, the first modern-day treaty to be concluded on Vancouver Island.  The treaty came into effect on April 1, 2011.

As a result of the Treaty, Huu-ay-aht First Nations have full ownership and jurisdiction over more than 8,200 hectares of land within their territories and continue to have rights throughout its Ha-houlthee (traditional territories).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Haisla, LNG is spelled HOPE

0

The Haisla First Nation comprises about 1,800 people, more than half of them living in Kitamaat Village, 10 km south of Kitimat.

“We have lived off the land and waters of our traditional territory for thousands of years, and it remains the focus of all we do,” the official history runs.

Fisheries and forestry have thus been mainstays for revenue — but responsible LNG development is seen as a huge new opportunity.

“It’s hope,” says Chief Councillor Crystal Smith.

“The proposed LNG projects for Haisla Territory hold so much hope for our members in terms of employment and capacity-building for future generations that come. We see significant employment for our members, access to educational opportunities, and a way forward for a truly independent nation.

“We know exactly what we need — the ability to govern ourselves, take care of our families, and ensure our young people have opportunities that allow them to remain in our community and become self-supporting. What we need are well-paying jobs and economic development opportunities.”

True, the Haisla had some benefits from past industrial development in the region: Rio Tinto’s Alcan aluminum smelter, the Methanex methanol and ammonia plant (closed in 2006, with a loss of 127 jobs) and the Eurocan paper mill (closed in 2010, killing 525 jobs).

But those were developed “around” the Haisla rather than “with,” says Chief Crystal. “For 50 years we never had any real involvement in terms of the economic prosperity that happened around us.”

That has changed. At last, the Haisla Nation is front and centre in the process.

“LNG Canada has definitely set the bar in terms of how they deal with First Nations. For an example, on environmental issues — and believe me when I say that we are the experts when it comes to our Haisla Territory and the environment that surrounds us. If we have any issues regarding work in our traditional territory and what we value as important to the Haisla people, they have worked, and continue to work, with us to meet our concerns”

“There is a mutual respect that we have with the LNG proponents. It’s the same with Chevron (and its Kitimat LNG project). And with both, there are Impact Benefit Agreements that we’ve worked on.

“These agreements would allow us the ability to meet our community needs at a level that could not have happened through government. Education, training, mental health and addictions support, programs and supports for our youth and elders, infrastructure and all the other social issues we face as a Nation. The programs that we would be able to deliver to our members truly make me emotional, thinking about the wellbeing that we and our future generations can have, and it will all be as a result of the LNG industry in Haisla territory.”

Her Haisla council has its eyes on long-term employment and lasting benefits. Chief Crystal gives no details, but notes: “We are working closely alongside LNG Canada to ensure our members will have equal opportunity for employment both in operations and maintenance..”

Throughout the process, the Haisla have pressed protection of the environment.

In a recent letter to the editor, the chief councillor took issue with an eco-group’s argument that LNG development would devastate BC’s tourism industry.

“Before the Sierra Club B.C. writes any more about LNG, I invite them to spend time with the many First Nations that support LNG development. The Haisla have worked closely with LNG Canada, a proposed LNG-export project that would be located in our traditional territory.

“We have spent a significant amount of time participating in an environmental assessment review process to ensure our concerns about the land we live on and the waters that surround our village would be protected. We are satisfied that LNG Canada has designed its project to address our concerns, and operate with the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions of any large-scale LNG project in the world today.”

Our Alliance’s CEO, Karen Ogen-Toews, gives the Haisla credit for first spending time on learning all about LNG. “You have to congratulate the Haisla for doing their homework. They literally spent years studying LNG, and getting to know the ins and outs, before deciding to support the projects at Kitimat. They really became experts themselves.”

The anticipated future for LNG and the Haisla took a hit in 2016, when LNG Canada’s timeline changed.

There had been expectations for a Final Investment Decision (FID) on LNG Canada’s $40-billion plant and shipping terminal in 2016. But in 2015, world LNG prices began to drop. Supply began to increase faster than demand. And in July 2016, LNG Canada announced a delay: any FID would probably come in late 2018. And the company began to work hard on reducing costs.

Chief Crystal: “When LNG Canada announced their delay, the only way I could describe the feeling was it like somebody had died. It was devasting, as we have put in so much work and effort into both of these projects, to get them across their finish line.”

LNG Canada’s latest word is that an FID should come later this year.

How many fingers does the Haisla chief councillor have crossed?

“All of my fingers. But I have never considered the possibility of this project going away. That’s never been an option.”

What? No market for LNG?

0

One thing you can say for BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver: When he takes a position, he can sure stick to it:

  • “I’ve been saying for four years, there is no market for LNG.”

And as recently as March 27, he was still on it:

  • “The reason why we have no LNG industry here in British Columbia is that the market simply doesn’t support it,” he insisted on the Business News Network.

No market?

This is why natural-gas developers have already spent billions in BC, building and securing gas supplies, and working on pipelines?

This is why Shell and partners are looking at a $40-billion LNG Canada plant and export terminal at Kitimat?

And this is why investment in LNG is booming around the world?

We do understand and relate to Mr. Weaver’s concerns for the environment. Protection of the environment, of our land, our air, and our water, has been a priority for First Nations in BC for thousands and thousands of years.

But. . . . the Greens are an “official party” for legislature purposes, meaning they have provincial funding for office, staff, and research capability.

And Mr. Weaver’s advisers seem to have missed some of the market information that is out there.

Some recent examples:

And, of course:

So there’s “no market” for LNG?

As the BC LNG Alliance says: ‘Make no mistake, if BC doesn’t develop an LNG industry it doesn’t mean there is any less LNG in the world. It just means that other countries without our strong environmental regulations will produce and supply it and see all the benefits instead of British Columbians.’

As for Mr. Weaver’s environmental concerns, hear David Keane, CEO of the BC LNG Alliance:

“By developing a globally competitive, liquefied natural-gas (LNG) industry, B.C. can market its abundant natural gas, exporting responsibly developed natural gas to countries that need cleaner fuels to power their economies.

“We can help those countries address their energy, climate and air-quality goals, while meeting B.C.’s strict climate targets. . . . LNG from B.C. will be the cleanest in the world due to the province’s world-leading GHG emissions policies and rules.”

Maybe we’re missing something, but it sure looks to us like there’s a market for BC LNG. We hope to meet with Mr. Weaver one day to explain why, and why many First Nations are eager to see it happen.

Chief Councillor Joe Bevan of the Kitselas First Nation is just one Indigenous leader who sees a future in responsible LNG development:

“For some of chiefs who have seen three generations from one family, under social assistance, it’s time that we stopped managing poverty and start managing wealth.”

— Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance

Blog: Canada’s slow waltz on LNG

0

One thing is for sure: The anticipated increase in demand from global LNG customers is fast accelerating activity among LNG suppliers.

The U.S. government, for one, is racing to approve a number of new LNG-for-export plants. Two plants are already operating. Eleven more are in the environmental review process, and at least six more are being thought about.

One planned U.S. operation is being reviewed for the Oregon coast. Another is being proposed for Alaska.

These last two possibilities are worrisome, as they would hack at one of BC’s big competitive advantages: We can offer much shorter shipping times to key Asian customers than can LNG plants on the U.S. Gulf Coast. And shippers leaving BC would not have to pay US$380,000 for a one-way, east-to-west passage through the Panama Canal.

So the U.S. under Donald Trump is sprinting.

What has Canada’s record been so far? A sluggish slow waltz.

Here’s the classic example:

Pacific NorthWest LNG filed its formal Project Description with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) in February 2013.

The CEAA then posted it publicly on its website on 19 February 2013. That action kicked off a government-and-public review process that, we were told at the time, could take two years.

Two years? In fact, the final approval came on Sept. 17, 2016, meaning it took:

  • 3 years, 7 months, 9 days (1,317 days)

In contrast, look at Cheniere Energy Inc.’s experience with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Cheniere filed the Project Description for its Sabine Pass LNG project in Louisiana on 31 January 2011 and the formal evaluation began.

On 16 April 2012, the project got the FERC order authorizing Cheniere to begin construction. The elapsed time:

  • 1 year, two months, 17 days  (442 days).

Cheniere’s first export cargo of LNG left by carrier for Brazil on February 24 last year, and well over 200 more have since gone to 25 different countries. On average, Cheniere is sending off a loaded LNG carrier every three or four days; and in one recent week dispatched six loaded ships.

(And now we learn that BC’s public-sector pension plan has invested millions of dollars in Cheniere.)

Did Canada’s plodding process play a part in the cancellation of Petronas’s Pacific NorthWest LNG project? And thus the loss to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation of multi-million-dollar benefits?

Nobody in the BC LNG industry is quite saying that, but Petronas-owned Progress Energy Ltd. did say this: “Delays and long regulatory timelines can ultimately have an impact on whether projects go ahead or not.”

Calgary energy consultant Dave Tulk is even more firm: He says that applying the same slow regulatory process to any further Canadian LNG proposals would be “the definition of insanity.”

We now have encouraging news on the BC government’s new “framework” for LNG development. But we don’t yet know what the federal government will build into its new regulatory process, or what BC will do as it revises its environmental assessment procedures.

A speedier approach is obviously needed, although time must be allowed for full First Nations engagement and meaningful participation as envisaged by government ministers and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

BC’s energy minister, Michelle Mungall, said this week she hopes LNG Canada‘s project at Kitimat will make a positive Final Investment Decision later this year.

LNG Canada, meanwhile, said it is working on documentation needed for that decision by its joint-venture participants, And Shell, one of those participants, said LNG Canada will name its prime contractor in April.

But, right now, LNG Canada is seeking speedy answers from Ottawa on new import duties on Asian steel products. This last item would add massive costs to prefabricated components for LNG plants that the industry says will have to come from Asia.

Could our government please (as it were) hit the gas?

— Erwin Tom, councillor, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, and a director of the First Nations LNG Allianc

Blog: UNDRIP, and ‘the last word’

0

It’s all so simple to the person who, discussing LNG development, posted this comment on our Facebook page: “The indigenous have the last word what happens to the land.”

Do we? If so, what does ”last word” mean? Whose last word? And how is that last word determined, decided, expressed, and put into practice?

We take it that the person who posted the comment has their own, simple definition of “free, prior and informed consent” and “free and informed consent”, the concepts and/or principles that appear in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP.

Somehow, the principles of UNDRIP are going to be integrated into Canadian law. In the words of Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett in 2016: “We intend nothing less than to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.”

Indigenous MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262 seeks to “ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “ It has been given second reading in Parliament and referred to the House Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

We don’t know yet what the outcome of all this will look like in practice and in legislation. And we have more unknowns when it comes to Ottawa’s new promise to recognize Indigenous rights in the Constitution, through federal legislation that is to become law by the end of the year.

These promises have led to endless speculation as to just what Ottawa will do, and how, and to interpretations as far apart as (i) “First Nations will always have a veto over resource development” and (ii) “First Nations have to be consulted and accommodated, but they do not have a veto.”

We’ll leave all that, and ‘the last word’, to the passage of law and time.

What we at the First Nations LNG Alliance see in UNDRIP is not a legalistic, adversarial, winner-take-all, battlefield of rights, but an opportunity to implement in Canada the concept and long-overdue practice of “collaborative consent.”

This is explored in an article that appeared just a few weeks ago on the online magazine Policy Options Politiques. It’s well worth a read, beginning with this introduction:

In recent years, governments at all levels in Canada have stated their commitments to reconciliation and building nation-to-nation approaches with Indigenous peoples. Both the federal government and, more recently, the British Columbia government, have committed to implementing UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, which reiterate the need to secure consent and ensure Indigenous peoples are full partners in Confederation.

Turning this commitment into reality is perhaps the greatest challenge of the coming decade. It may well define Canada in a global context, and will certainly have significant implications for governance and land and resource development decision-making across the country.

Policy Options goes on to say this:

Researchers who have studied the declaration at length have remarked that implementing UNDRIP implies building consent through long-term, ongoing collaborative governance relationships. . . . This relational approach to free, prior and informed consent moves beyond the adversarial debates around veto and focuses instead on processes for Indigenous peoples to be full and equal governing partners in decisions affecting their lands.

And that’s what we hope to see: full and equal partnerships based on mutual respect, mutual understanding, and recognition of Indigenous rights and title.

It’s a world in which “the last word” is a fully shared and mutual word.

As Policy Options puts it:

Collaborative consent is like cooperative federalism but it goes further, in that it embraces the critical role of Indigenous nations as full partners in building Canada’s future. It requires all governments (Crown and Indigenous) to continuously build new, shared spaces, structures and institutions as part of an evolving relationship.

That’s a world that may seem strange to those trained to think in precise, categorical, legalistic and adversarial terms.

But as Policy Options writes:

The intention of seeking collaborative consent . . . would be to build real partnerships and new forms of governance, ones that would do away with courts as a way to resolve disputes or mediate a fraying relationship, which is cumbersome and often ineffective.

Let’s go for it.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr., Huu-ay-aht First Nations

BC LNG: the time is coming

0

We shake our collective Alliance heads when we get zealous comments such as these posted on our social media channels:

“LNG is dead, dead, dead.” “LNG is a thing of the past.” “Do you not understand that LNG is gone and we must move on renewables?”

A thing of the past? This is not what we are hearing from expert forecasters—or from energy companies whose investors are betting big billions that LNG is definitely a fuel of the future.

We and they may see it as the “transition” fuel that takes over from coal and some oil as the world moves—slowly, over some decades—into the realm of renewables. But LNG is far from dead, dead, dead.

Indeed, if you’ve heard of a so-called glut in world LNG supply, listen to the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell: “The LNG glut — conspicuously absent isn’t it?”

And a leader of the US LNG company Tellurian added last week: “We need all the LNG we can get.”

Hear, too, the International Energy Agency: “LNG ushers in a new global gas order.” It now sees world gas and LNG demand rising by 74% by 2040.

And we see almost daily such stories as these:

  • LNG is the world’s fastest-growing traded commodity
  • India plans massive natural gas expansion, LNG imports to soar
  • Asia’s rapacious thirst for liquefied natural gas is sucking supplies from surprising places.

It all adds up, most agree, to a big worldwide window of opportunity beginning to open as early as 2022, and perhaps earlier. (One Canadian analyst even sees the window opening in 2020.)

  • Some 38 countries now are LNG importers, and demand for the chilled gas has already grown to 260 million tonnes per year. That’s expected to very soon to reach 280 million tonnes per year.

“Every year, two or three more countries are added to that list,” notes Andy Calitz, CEO of LNG Canada in Kitimat.

He says Canadian projects need to be built before even more competing projects are announced, in Oregon or Alaska, the US Gulf Coast and gas-rich places such as Qatar and Mozambique.

Given that it can take four years to build a big plant like his, we would therefore hope to see at least one Final Investment Decision (FID) for BC in 2018.

For along with it will come jobs and opportunity for First Nations and others.

Tragically, the cancellation of the Petronas (Pacific NorthWest LNG) project was a huge blow to those First Nations who had counted on a go-ahead for the project to boost their economies.

(The BC government valued the Lax Kw’alaams Band’s deal, for one, at $98.5 million, including millions in payouts the day a go-ahead Final Investment Decision was made. The agreement with the Metlakatla First Nation was valued at $46 million, with $5 million cash upfront.)

Now we have to underline the optimism of Calitz, who holds out hope for LNG Canada’s FID in the fall of 2018, and says: “I actually believe that B.C. will have an LNG industry.”

— Dan George, Chief of the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band), and chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance

The road to energy literacy

0

It’s easy to define energy literacy as “an understanding of the nature and role of energy in the world and daily lives.”

But that definition, from a government education program, then adds a tough twist. It says this understanding must be “accompanied by the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems.”

Talk about the ideal world. . . .

In this ideal world, an energy-literate person:

  • Can think in terms of energy systems;
  • Knows how much energy they use, and what for;
  • Knows where the energy comes from, and how it reaches them;
  • Can communicate about energy and energy use in meaningful ways;
  • Is able to make informed energy-use decisions based on an understanding of impacts and consequences; and
  • Can assess the credibility of information about energy.

That last one is surely tough to do in this era of social media and short attention spans. How do we know what is reliable and credible information, when we are bombarded with fake news, political propaganda, well-funded social-media campaigns to discredit energy development, and a myriad communications from energy companies?

Add to that the complication of understanding the rights and title and needs and priorities of First Nations. And the right of First Nations to be fully engaged in (and potentially true partners in) LNG developments that respect and protect the environment. Those things, too, are an essential part of energy literacy in Canada.

Thinking of energy literacy, I got a chuckle out of a column by Bill Whitelaw, energy analyst and CEO of JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group (JWN) in Calgary.

His headline: “Canada’s politicians aren’t energy literate, and it’s crippling the country.”

Bill wondered if politicians should have to take an energy version of the old S.A.T. test so unloved by students.

“What if Canada’s aspiring provincial and federal politicians had to engage with a similar process vis à vis energy knowledge ‘testing’ before being permitted to let their names stand for office? Call it the E.A.T. — Energy Assessment Test.”

I did not chuckle when Bill Whitelaw added this: “Let’s face reality: most politicians currently came to office well-intentioned but ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of energy matters: economic, technical, regulatory, political and so on. What they are equipped with, on all points on the political spectrum, is a particular ideological perspective on energy that is their default position on what they think they know.”

That’s what we at the First Nations LNG Alliance see every day. We see it from environmentalists, eco-activists, and from some politicians and would-be plliticians. And, sadly, sometimes from business people who should know better. Worse, we far too often see “a particular ideological perspective” that demonstrates abysmal lack of understanding about First Nations and Indigenous people, and Indigenous rights and title.

Now, how do we move towards this ideal world of energy literacy? Clearly, communication is the key. That is, of course, a serious challenge in this age of failing newspapers and steadily growing social media channels. Last time we looked, by the way, there were well over 250 social-media channels around the world.

Our Alliance is on just two of the leaders: Facebook and Twitter. And on those we will work harder to explain how and why First Nations can and do support responsible LNG development.

Resource companies, and government, and we First Nations, and you, can also help increase energy literacy.

Let us take every opportunity to “communicate about energy and energy use in meaningful ways.” And let us in that way help people to make those “informed energy-use decisions based on an understanding of impacts and consequences.”

And maybe we could add, too, some energy literacy being taught in our schools and colleges.

— Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance