Editorial: Creativity could rescue B.C.’s LNG file

They’ve been pushing a lot of creative economy buttons of late, but, as B.C.’s 2016-17 budget illustrates, the BC Liberals need to get more creative with liquefied natural gas.

Those pre-budget buttons included the launch of a $15 million music fund aimed at reversing the eastern outflow of music talent and business to Ontario, which initiated a similar fund three years ago.

The LNG file might be more complex, but there’s more to the game than merely being a bulk supplier.

For example, according to Black & Veatch, a U.S.-based energy infrastructure and engineering consultancy, LNG has huge transportation potential.

China, the world’s largest market for coal, needs cleaner energy sources to generate power and is predicted to become a world leader in adding renewable power generation sources.

But Black & Veatch also points out in a recent report that LNG is rapidly displacing diesel and gasoline in China and could be fuelling more than one million vehicles in the next few years. With BP’s Energy Outlook 2016 projecting the global vehicle fleet to more than double to around 2.4 billion by 2035 and a new study led by Simon Fraser University environmental professor Jonn Axsen pointing out that alternative transportation fuels have failed to capture any significant market, despite 30 years of hype, the opportunities for transportation LNG are significant.

B.C.’s multibillion-dollar natural gas export deals might have temporarily slipped to marketplace back burners, but the near-term options for supplying the raw material and the technical expertise to use LNG for power generation and transportation abound. And they need to be developed now.

Investing resources in becoming a leader in those areas could soften the hard reality of failing to realize the outsized promise of B.C.’s initial LNG dream. It could also ensure the province plays a bigger role on the global energy stage than logging another predictable performance as a drawer of water and a hewer of wood.