A $40-billion energy megaproject on the West Coast has been approved in a decision expected to revitalize the economy of northern British Columbia.

LNG Canada says it will create thousands of temporary jobs and hundreds of permanent ones in a region that has been an economic laggard as the Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, B.C., forges ahead with construction.

“This is a generational opportunity for northern British Columbia, one that could not be passed up,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed LNG Canada’s announcement – coming on the heels of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade – as a sign of confidence in the Canadian economy.

“It is proof that that our country’s rich natural resources and talented workforce can make Canada an attractive place for investors to do business and support a clean-growth economy,” he said during a news conference on Tuesday in Vancouver.

CIBC World Markets Inc. praised the project’s approval, following a series of setbacks for Canada’s energy industry. “We see the sanctioning of this project as a major milestone for the Canadian oil and gas sector, particularly during a year that has been mired with negative macro headlines,” CIBC analysts said in a research note.

Exports from the LNG Canada terminal will be shipped to Asia, which is a coveted export market, said the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The federal government will provide $275-million to support infrastructure improvements and increase marine protection to mitigate impacts of increased ship traffic. Ottawa also cleared the path for a positive final investment decision by agreeing with the consortium that fabrication of modules could not be undertaken in Canada, and that import modules from China should not be hit with tariffs on fabricated industrial steel components.

Former BC Liberal premier Christy Clark has been a long-time advocate for B.C.’s fledgling LNG industry. “This approval sends a message to the world that you can do business in British Columbia and Canada as a private-sector enterprise. The Trans Mountain fight has really shaken confidence,” Ms. Clark said in an interview on Tuesday. The minority BC NDP government relies on the support of the BC Green Party to hold on to power. Although the Greens oppose the LNG project, there is little prospect of the government falling in the near term over LNG.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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