B.C. starts to talk about dealing with anticipated natural gas wealth
(Vancouver Sun; June 29) -- A projected trillion-dollar economy emerging around British Columbia's natural gas sector is too important to be left to chance, according to an array of observers who say it's time for an in-depth conversation on the province's emerging role in the energy economy. Greg D'Avignon, president of the Business Council of British Columbia, would like to see the province take the long view -- the really long view -- on how it manages revenue it expects from expanded natural gas production.
Environmental groups want to explore options to lessen the greenhouse gas effects associated with the extraction and processing of natural gas. And business interests want to make sure at least some of the government's royalty from this non-renewable energy resource -- potentially $4 billion per year if it's exported as LNG -- is banked away for the future in the manner of Norway's $600 billion oil-and-gas-wealth savings account.
"We are going to have this global play of huge magnitude and a new industry in British Columbia," D'Avignon said. "Should we not, because it's a non-renewable resource, be thinking about setting some of that aside for a rainy day?" Tyler Bryant, energy policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, is concerned that an overemphasis on gas exports will leave B.C. with an economic model like Alberta -- a boom-and-bust cycle predicated by volatility in the global price of energy.