Two centuries ago, people went mad driven by dreams of fabulous riches from mining gold. Similar mania has infected BC Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet, causing her to promise trillions in wealth from LNG (Liquid Natural Gas). I want to put a bit of a wet blanket on these imaginings to bring expectations back closer to reality.
The infrastructure to process LNG is immensely expensive. A plant has to operate for 50-60 years for a project to be profitable. It is a long haul investment with a massive up-front cost. Because the province invests both directly and indirectly in such projects, the people of BC too are on the hook if the projects don’t prove to be profitable throughout their lifetimes. To guess whether projects will be profitable 50 years out into the future requires you to accurately predict what the world will be like then. Here are my predictions:
- Global warming will be considered a much bigger threat than it is now. People will be desperately looking for ways to reduce CO₂ emissions (i.e. reducing LNG use).
- Green energy is getting cheaper every year. Germany is already well on its way with the conversion. By then it will be cheaper than fossil fuels. (i.e. LNG will be too expensive to use as a fuel. This will cut LNG demand drastically.)
- It turns out natural gas is globally abundant. Pretty well any jurisdiction willing to put up with the side effects of extracting it can get into the business. Other jurisdictions will likely be willing to tolerate much more environmental degradation than BC is. This means they will be able to produce it more cheaply than us.
These factors suggest that LNG in BC will be boom followed by a bust, where the taxpayers of BC will be stuck paying for infrastructure standing idle.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:70)