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Industry Insight: The year ahead by Captain Stephen Brown

By BCShippingNews 26 January 2015
President of Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia weighs on the issues and trends to watch in 2015...

As 2015 is now in full swing, it is becoming a tradition that at this time of the year BCSN provides me an opportunity to share some thoughts on what lies ahead for the next 12 months.

Looking back 100 years to January 1915, Canada was gearing up to play its part in the 20th century’s first European war with the dispatch of Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry to the trenches in France. By the end of February they were in action and in April took the full force of the first chemical weapon attack of that truly dreadful conflict.

Photo above: Artist's rendering of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (courtesy Port Metro Vancouver).

On a more positive note, also in January 1915, the Canadian Northern Railway Line was completed between Quebec City and Vancouver via Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton. This led to the formation in 1910 of the Canadian Northern Steamship Company which, until the outbreak of the First World War, operated between Montreal and the U.K. under the name Royal Line. Under immense financial pressure, the entire company was merged into Canadian Pacific in 1923.

Energy projects

The past year has seen a number of highs and lows for the development of new projects in the marine sector and there will be more in 2015. However, the headline of my 2014 look ahead was:

On a local level, the more extreme environmental and self-interest groups will step up their campaign of misinformation designed to discredit our industry.  

They have not disappointed but it has also been interesting to witness the growth in opposition to the Energy East Pipeline project, the proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline to carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Eastern Canada. Even though 3,000 kilometres comprises an existing LNG import pipeline, the project is shaping up to face similar levels of opposition to that of our own Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan projects with many of the same forms of managed misinformation clouding an objective assessment of the project. It is also truly alarming that the Governments of Ontario and Quebec are playing provincial politics with this project.

Likewise with British Columbia’s LNG export project proposals. The misconceptions and demands on the projects are alarming. The opportunity before Canada to make a real difference in the world as consuming countries seek to diversify into LNG as a primary source of energy is more than generational — it is once in a lifetime.

Speaking to this topic one year ago, our comments were as follows:

2014 will be witness to continued hesitation by LNG export project proponents to make “Final Investment Decisions.” The reasons for this are complex but may best be summarized as:

  • A complex and ill-defined regulatory regime
  • Proposed B.C. government royalty taxes
  • First Nations demands for project equity
  • Uncertain LNG sales price
  • Strong overseas competition for market share

Unfortunately, this was all too prophetic, and while others are getting on with it we continue to dither. I will however stick my neck out and predict that at least two projects, one of them major, will make a positive final investment decision (FID) in 2015.

To read the full article from the February 2015 issue of BC Shipping News, please log in.