British Columbia putting out welcome mat for energy industry

The province of British Columbia is cutting taxes, slashing regulations, and putting out the welcome mat for industry as a partner in energy development.

Oct 30th, 2002

Jim Stott
Special correspondent-Calgary

CALGARY, Oct. 30 -- The province of British Columbia is cutting taxes, slashing regulations, and putting out the welcome mat for industry as a partner in energy development.

Premier Gordon Campbell told a Ziff Energy Group conference in Calgary Monday that his government is a big fan of the private energy sector.

Campbell said the province plans to unveil a new, comprehensive energy policy in November. He said the policy will encourage exploitation and exploration of energy resources.

Campbell said his government hopes to generate $24 billion (Can.) in new energy investment in the next 5-6 years.

The premier said his government since coming to power a year ago has eliminated 16,500 regulations across the economy. He estimated the cost of regulations to the economy at $5-6 billion/year. The province has also cut fuel, aviation, and bunker taxes; reduced personal taxes by 25% across the board; and is spending on infrastructure in natural gas exploration areas.

The premier said changes under consideration include single-window licensing and permitting and elimination of overlapping regulations.

Campbell said British Columbian energy development will focus on its conventional natural gas potential and on an estimated 90 tcf of coalbed methane (CBM). He said the costs of CBM development will be recognized in a new royalty package under development.

Campbell declined to put any date on when prospective areas off the British Columbia coast would be opened for exploration but said the government is working on scientific, environmental, and social concerns and developing a cooperative approach with Ottawa on the area, which is now under moratoriums against drilling.

Campbell said British Columbia is ready to be a supplier to the US for clean energy needs.

"We can create an energy industry second to none in the Northwest, with British Columbia, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Alaska," he said.

"Would you (the US) rather depend on Saudi Arabia or on Canadian energy? We can supply the US with secure energy."

Kyoto concerns
Campbell was critical of Ottawa's position on the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and its plans to ratify the pact by yearend.

The premier said Kyoto creates uncertainty over energy development.

"We have yet to hear federal targets on Kyoto and how they are to be met. We have yet to hear how Ottawa plans to mitigate economic damage. It will cost 11,000 jobs in (British Columbia)," he said.

"What of the costs to individuals and families and the competitive position of industry? It is not too smart to tie our hands behind our backs. We know that, and we hope that the federal government will come to its senses".

Campbell said British Columbia wants recognition that it has the second lowest level of greenhouse gase emissions in Canada, factoring in its hydropower resources and large carbon sinks in its forests.

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