The potential is there. The opportunity is there. But will Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) be the latest addition to the long list of Atlantic Canadian could-have-beens?

In this commentary, based on a talk to the Canadian Institute’s LNG/CNG Conference in Halifax, AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley points out that LNG does hold potential for the region, and there is an opportunity for Atlantic Canada to take “first mover advantage”, but the opportunity is perishable.

With three LNG terminals proposed for Atlantic Canada, Crowley puts the basic fact on the line, “Over 50 [LNG] regasification terminals are being proposed for construction. The US currently has four facilities in operation, and all are being expanded in the next three years. Many industry observers believe that the North American market will only need 6 to 8 new regasification terminals. Will the proposed projects in Atlantic Canada be among them?”

Atlantic Canada has lost many opportunities by focusing too much on short-term benefits, losing sight of the long term advantages. As Crowley explains, “It is misleading to focus on local benefits only when assessing the economic opportunities of locating LNG terminals in Atlantic Canada. The benefits of 40 full time jobs and 600 temporary construction jobs per terminal are short-lived and small compared to the long-term advantages for the entire region. Focusing on short term benefits can be potentially divisive for all of Atlantic Canada, and could cause the region to lose sight of its long-term energy interests. In my view it is quite inappropriate for governments in the region to become advocates for one project over another, especially when the main opportunity arises for the whole region to be connected to the emerging LNG industry, and given the potential that exists for governments to battle each other to a standstill, at the cost of losing the opportunity for the region as a whole. The benefits from being connected to the LNG industry, regardless of where the terminal is located, are many.”

Crowley concludes that he has concerns about whether a long-term strategy for the region’s energy future has been carefully thought through by the authorities, and that there is once again a short-term scramble for projects whose economic impact may have been greatly exaggerated.

To read the complete commentary, please click here.