Editorial – British Columbia’s LNG Opportunity
All British Columbians should enthusiastically support Premier Clark’s paradigm-shifting LNG venture for BC. Rich Coleman, the Minister in charge of Natural Gas, is optimistic but also realistic. He told a recent dinner event in Surrey that his objective is to persuade global investors to see B.C. as the best option for their investment, while conceding there are other competing sources of LNG for the hungry Asian market.
He summarizes his own sales pitch: manufacturing locations in Kitimat and Prince Rupert are two days closer by ship to Asian markets than any other North American port; consistently cool weather helps reduce the cost and complexity of liquefying natural gas; and British Columbia’s economic and political stability is probably the ultimate clincher.
It also helps that we have lots of natural gas. Asian nations, playing the long game, wish to cement permanent ties with resource-rich British Columbia. Rich is focusing on the design and negotiation of a predictable and fair-to-all-parties tax regime.
The Calgary-based Canada West Foundation cautions that we are coming relatively late to the LNG party, and that China in particular can access other low-cost alternatives. Realistically, we must anticipate continued downward pressure on prices as global competition heats up.
The National Energy Board and B.C.’s own Ministry of Natural Gas are bullish on our gas supply. They estimate ultimate potential for marketable unconventional natural gas in the shales of the Horn River Basin of northeastern B.C. in the range of 78 trillion cubic feet, establishing Horn as one of the largest shale gas basins on the continent. They also point out reserves tend to grow over time, upon further drill definition and as geoscience confirms earlier guesstimates.
A West Vancouver constituent points to the feasibility of adopting even more ambitious goals:
- Establishing British Columbia as a more direct conduit for many forms of energy and fuel to Asia, bypassing the North American continent, bypassing the Panama Canal, and offering market access for all of the Western provinces.
- Acknowledging economies of scale, and investor preference for multiple LNG trains co-existing side-by-side.
- Taking Canadian leadership in developing an integrated interprovincial fuel network, with gas pipeline infrastructure spanning all four Western Provinces, expanding already extensive BC reserves with Alberta natural gas otherwise flared, and coal-bed gas from Saskatchewan.
- Developing an integrated Western Canada electrical grid, supplying energy to LNG projects as well as allowing LNG participants to sell and trade surplus energy across the fence to all of Western Canada and the USA.
- Creating a common Canada Corridor for pipelines across the Province, reducing uncertainties, and environmental and stakeholder issues.
- Fostering the “Rupert Hub,” a northern version of the “Henry Hub” in Louisiana where over a dozen pipelines (mostly across the lower Mississippi basin) and the associated trading of natural gas have created a market for natural gas on the NY Mercantile exchange. This would encourage the convergence of natural gas and energy trading (swaps, spot, derivatives, etc.) in one British Columbia centre and would be a boon to the BC financial community and Vancouver.
In short, this government’s LNG opportunity “has legs” with future opportunities for low-cost electrical energy, multiple sources of natural gas, a trading industry, highly paid jobs in construction and operations, and a more integrated Western Canadian economy. This is a huge opportunity, and we will have to make complicated decisions quickly in order to seize it. Rich, we wish you well!
Eating Salmon to Save Them
Cooks at the Coho
The Coho Society of the North Shore was founded to bring attention to the issue of salmon and stream sustainability on the North Shore.
It all started with a BBQ at Ambleside Park 35 years ago. In the early years the organization had not found a way to protect a large amount of frozen salmon from overnight raccoons and bears – necessitating Bill Soprovich volunteering to sleep in his car overnight to provide security. Bill continues to volunteer every year, although they have found more suitable refrigeration and storage options. Bill Chapman was also an original organizer and also works as a volunteer wherever he is needed.
Today, no politician, police chief, fire chief, mayor, councillor, chamber chief or other seeker of public approval, can afford to skip Coho’s invitation to serve as “celebrity chef.” However, although I have been doing this for a dozen years now, the trick of balancing BBQ flame size, spatula technique, knowing when to turn the salmon steak over, and how to remove the skin, still eludes me. My chef’s rating is still in the B-minus category, I give my customers three options: rare, well-done, or mangled.
Meanwhile, the annual Coho celebration has gone main stream (no pun intended) with sponsorship by governments, business, school districts and federal agencies, plus environmental organizations, all of whom place a high priority on … fish. Indeed, I judge one of the most significant accomplishments of the Coho Society is today’s unarguable priority on protecting and enhancing salmon habitat on the North. Over the years nearly 1/2 million dollars has been raised for salmon restoration and education.
As a result, most salmonids have returned to the North Shore in abundance. With the exception of the sockeye, which, it appears, never liked the North Shore very much in the first place. As the French say, “Everyone to his (or her) own taste.” I will taste the Coho.
Water Park Surprises
John Lawson Playground
The notice said “Come to the Opening of John Lawson Park.” Ho hum. More swings and teeter totters. Boy, did I get that one wrong!
I arrived to witness a whimsical pirate ship, updated climbing challenges, and lots of new playground equipment – but no teeter totters. (I suspect the latter may be out of favour, since I learned early in life that one child is vulnerable to sudden exit by the other.)
So far so good, but I was totally unprepared when Councillor Craig Cameron of West Vancouver, turned an immense water valve, and things got interesting. As the kids clustered around, equipped with umbrellas, water started squirting from the ground, from tall squiggly masts, from buckets atop towers, which suddenly toppled their contents, in short a general H2O mayhem. Those children without umbrellas ran for cover, but did not cry, and came back for more when suitably equipped. Those with umbrellas enjoyed their security and did not want to leave the showers.
The deluge seemed to grow in volume and variety over time.
Query: Does Ms. Mooi of our wonderful Parks Department, intend to have Councillor Cameron man the main valve continuously, hoping to catch seniors unawares? I hope so. A wet surprise should be welcomed by all of us from time to time.
Thanks to Western Economic Diversification Canada, Independent School Society of West Vancouver, Pacific Arbour and the community at large for contributing the money to do all of this. Combined budget of $800,000 included community contributions of $169,000 and $244,200 from the Government of Canada.
Thank you Ottawa!
West Vancouver Remembers
Remembrance Day 2013
On November 11, 2013, Canadian Legion Branch 60 again hosted a parade and service at the Memorial Arch opposite the West Vancouver Library. The parade started a bit prematurely with the result that Chaplain McCrindle had to wait for ten minutes before asking the bugler to sound “Last Post” after two minutes of silence. It finally dawned on me that he was waiting for the 11th hour of the 11thday of the 11th month. And so he did.
It was a large but sombre crowd. A time for remembrance. I thought of my brothers, all three of whom served in the RCAF during World War II. I thought of my oldest brother Sigurd, bomb aimer on a Lancaster bomber, RCAF assigned to the RAF.
As a youth after the war, I researched what my brother Sigurd had gone through. Here is an account of the raid on Frankfurt in which he participated.
Berlin, December 2/3, 1943. Sigurd’s second raid over Germany. His aircraft was flown by Pilot Officer Garnett. The raid consisted of 458 aircraft: 425 Lancasters, 18 Mosquitoes, and 15 Halifax bombers. 43 aircraft aborted their mission, or 9.4% of the bomber force. The bombers took an absolutely direct flight to Berlin and many fighters were waiting for them. The Germans were “up in strength”. A total of 40 bombers, 37 Lancasters, 2 Halifaxes, and 1 Mosquitoe, were lost, 8.7% of the force which started out, and almost 10% of those which “carried on”. Aircrew casualties were 228 dead, 60 prisoners of war, and 2 who evaded custody and made their way back to England.
The bombing at the target proved to be a failure. An inaccurate wind forecast caused great difficulty for the Pathfinders who were not able to establish their positions correctly. Many aircraft, both Pathfinders and Main Force, were late. Radar location of target was erroneous, targeting three towns similar to the intended reference towns. The bombing area was scattered over a wide area of Southern Berlin and the countryside south of the city. Among the bombs carried to Berlin that night were six 8,000 pound blast bombs, carried in specially modified Lancaster Mark II’s of 115 Squadron. There was some damage to ball-bearing factories, aircraft factories, and railway installations. However, Middlebrook concludes, “the results of the bombing were negligible.”
One flight crew reported, “the last 20 minutes to the target was one of continual illumination of fighter flares, with bombers blowing up every few minutes.” Another commented on, “the Flak steadily building up a cloud layer of its own, the fighter flares at our level, the searchlights, the streets delineated by fires, the explosions on the ground, and most of all, the immensity of the city and our excruciatingly slow progress across it.”
Upon their return to England, my brother Sigurd and the other flight crew were served scrambled eggs as their reward. He went back to Germany another 29 times.