The decision by Malaysian energy giant Petronas to pull the plug on a proposed multi-billion dollar LNG project on B.C.’s north coast is being met with disappointment from communities in the area.
The Pacific Northwest LNG board announced on Tuesday that it would not proceed with a $36-billion export terminal at Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert.
The company cited depressed global prices for natural gas and shifting market conditions for the decision.
In Port Edward, the community nearest to where the plant would have been, the loss is personal.
“I am disappointed. I’d hoped it would go forward,” said Mayor Dave MacDonald.
MacDonald said many in the community have left to find work in Fort St. John and Fort McMurray, and he’d hoped the plant would boost the economy and pull families back together.
“We believe in working with our partners in the whole area, Prince Rupert and the native villages, we were hoping the whole area was going to expand.”
LISTEN: Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc on the decision to scrap Pacific Northwest LNG
In Terrace, about an hour east of the proposed site, the decision is being seen by some as a major blow.
Carol Leclerc, the community’s mayor, said the project held the promise of long-term, stable jobs.
“What happens in Prince Rupert and Port Edward impacts Terrace and whatever happens in Terrace also impacts communities in the northwest. It’s just really sad, there was lots of hope.”
WATCH: LNG megaproject not going ahead in B.C.
In Kitimat, about 60 kilometres to the south, reaction has been more muted.
Mayor Phil Germuth admits there were some in the community who were banking on a potential job.
But he said the decision to pull out won’t sink the region’s economy.
“It doesn’t affect our projects here. The three projects, you know your big ones — Pacific Northwest, LNG Canada, and Kitimat LNG. They weren’t really in competition with each other. For one of them to have to make that decision doesn’t affect as much here.”
LISTEN: Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth on the decision to scrap Pacific Northwest LNG
Germuth said he’s more concerned about competition with the established players in the LNG market, like the U.S. and Australia, that have already laid the groundwork for major projects.
“They already have pipelines going to some of these facilities, they have a lot of the infrastructure in place. Those are the ones that we are actually competing with on a cost basis of trying to get things up and running.”
Earlier Tuesday, NDP Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said the government remained committed to the nearly 20 other B.C. LNG projects still on the drawing board.
She said she would be meeting with stakeholders to reassure them that the province remains open for business.