Canada must act fast or miss LNG window-Shell CEO

Tue May 29, 2012 7:00pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada only has until the end of this decade to build up its liquefied natural gas industry or face being overtaken by other countries looking to cash in on booming demand for the fuel throughout Asia, Royal Dutch Shell Plc's chief executive said on Tuesday.

Shell, which plans a multibillion-dollar liquefaction plant on Canada's West Coast, believes Ottawa's controversial moves to streamline regulatory reviews for energy projects are necessary to avoid missing the opportunity as the Asia-Pacific LNG market is forecast to double by 2030, CEO Peter Voser said.

"A lot of projects are coming in over the next five to six years, and then there is kind of a window. Then we can see, already, later on after that window the next wave coming," Voser told reporters after meeting the oil major's Canadian staff in Calgary. "So there's clearly a window to be captured."

This month, Shell, along with partners PetroChina, Kogas and Mitsubishi Corp, detailed plans for a 2 billion cubic feet a day LNG plant at Kitimat on the Pacific coast to be in service by around 2020. It joined at least two other groups planning similar plants at that port, one led by Apache Corp and another that includes the Haisla First Nation. None of the proponents have sanctioned the projects yet.

Canada's gas industry, buffeted by depressed North American markets, is looking to the Asian market as massive gas reserves get unlocked in the Horn River shale basin of British Columbia and in other deposits. Shell has a growing British Columbia unconventional gas play called Groundbirch.

That prospect, along with LNG plans and massive Alberta oil sands and heavy crude holdings, will account for a growing percentage of Shell's worldwide spending, which is now about $32 billion annually, Voser said.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is proposing a series of legislative moves to speed up approvals of projects, including putting fixed timelines on reviews and taking final decision-making away from the regulators and handing it to the federal cabinet. Green groups complain that the streamlining amounts to gutting environmental protections.   Continued...

A logo is seen under a canopy of trees at a Shell petrol station in central London July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville