Bear Head LNG keeps on keeping on in Nova Scotia

Since I joined Natural Resources Magazine in the summer of 2013, I’ve written thousands and thousands of words at this blog and in the magazine about two liquefied natural gas export projects being proposed for Nova Scotia.

On Tuesday, one of the proponents of one of those projects – Bear Head LNG – had some news to tell the public.

Bear Head LNG Corporation Inc., the subsidiary of Australia-based Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, said on Feb. 19 it has signed a mutual benefits agreement with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and a project labour agreement with the Nova Scotia Construction Labour Relations Association Limited and Cape Breton unions.

The labour agreement will govern the terms of employment for workers represented by those unions at the Bear Head facility that would be located in Point Tupper, Nova Scotia.

This is all good stuff, and necessary steps for the proponent. And issuing a press release about progress regarding Bear Head LNG – the first release issued since July 25, 2018 – keeps the project in the public eye.

But are these deals a sign Bear Head LNG is going to get built?

It’s difficult not to be skeptical about the project, which has been around since 2014 when LNG Limited bought the site from Anadarko Petroleum for US$11 million.

Now we are almost three months into 2019 and the company still hasn’t made an investment decision, and it still doesn’t know where it’s going to get the supply of gas needed to feed a facility that plans to export eight to 12 million tonnes of LNG annually.

However, it’s true that big oil and gas projects do take time to come together.

In 2011 when I joined the now deceased Alberta Oil magazine (R.I.P.) in Edmonton, we were writing about Shell Canada’s big LNG project slated for Kitimat, B.C.

But it was only in 2018 that the project, named LNG Canada and backed by a five-company consortium that includes Shell, got sanctioned by its proponents.

Using LNG Canada as an example, perhaps it’s not unusual that Bear Head LNG has been in the planning stage for almost five years and no commitment has been made to build it.

So, the wait continues for the people of Nova Scotia and residents living near the Point Tupper site for a decision on a project that would provide a small infusion of good-paying jobs in an area where jobs are not plentiful.

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