Petronas threatens 15year delay on LNG project in BC if tax deal

CALGARY — Petronas said Monday a multibillion-dollar investment in B.C. liquefied natural gas could be delayed by at least a decade unless it can reach an agreement with its government counterparts on taxes and other matters by the end of this month.The CEO of the Malaysian state-owned energy giant issued his warning on the same day the British Columbia legislature was set to kick off its new session, which is expected to be dominated by legislation that focuses on LNG, including taxes and emissions’ reporting.“In order to remain competitive, Petronas needs to secure consensus on key principles vital to the success of this project by the end of October,” Shamsul Abbas said in a statement.“Missing this date will have the impact of having to defer our investments until the next LNG marketing window, anticipated in 10 to 15 years. At this juncture, Petronas firmly believes in the urgent need for stakeholders to collaborate and come to an agreement, rather than act as opposing parties at the negotiation table.”There are more than a dozen projects proposed for the West Coast that would chill natural gas piped from northeastern B.C. into a liquid state, enabling the resource to be shipped to customers across the Pacific by tanker. It’s unlikely more than a handful will be built, but Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG proposal has been perceived as one of the frontrunners.B.C. says LNG legislation to be unveiled by end of OctoberB.C. ‘not concerned’ about Petronas threat to pull out of LNG project, citing progress in talksCanadian LNG players are vying against numerous competitors for a share of the market, including ones in Australia and the United States. B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government has been banking on LNG becoming an economic bonanza for the province, with details of a new tax regime for the nascent industry expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.When Petronas last reviewed its global portfolio, it found the economics of Pacific Northwest LNG appeared “marginal” and that it would have a “tough time” deciding by the end of this year to build it without major cost reductions.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck “The proposed fiscal package and regulatory pace in Canada threatens the global competitiveness of the PNW LNG project,” said Abbas. Weaker commodity prices and a higher cost for contractors relative to global competitors are further squeezing the economics.Abbas told the Financial Times last month that Petronas may call off its B.C. LNG plans because of the proposed LNG tax and sluggish regulatory pace. At the time, Clark chalked Abbas’ remarks as being part of the negotiating process and that she was confident a deal would be reached.On Monday, Abbas said he was “encouraged” by discussions it had recently with Clark and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman and that Petronas will continue to work with Ottawa and federal agencies on ways to advance the regulatory process and clarify the fiscal framework.The next few weeks, he said, would be “critical” in ensuring B.C. follows through with commitments it made during the most recent meeting to create “a tangible environment which stimulates competitiveness and investor’s confidence in British Columbia,” he added.Petronas leads the Pacific Northwest LNG project with a 62 per cent stake. Other partners are players from China, India, Japan and Brunei.The fate of another major project, called Kitimat LNG, was called into question this summer when one of its partners, U.S. firm Apache Corp., announced it’s getting out of the LNG business. Apache’s partner, fellow U.S. energy giant Chevron Corp., has expressed no interest in moving forward with the plan on its own, so it must now find other players with which to advance the project.

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