Premier boosts northwest export plans

The Ridley Island bulk terminal at Prince Rupert will be expanded with a $90 million road and rail project, Premier Christy Clark announced Monday.

Container ship leaves Prince Rupert. Facilities also include Ridley Island terminal for bulk goods such as coal and potash

The Ridley Island bulk commodity terminal at Prince Rupert will be expanded with a $90 million road and rail project, Premier Christy Clark announced Monday.

The B.C. government is pitching in $15 million, with another $30 million each from CN Rail and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The project includes three inbound and two outbound tracks for coal, potash and other bulk terminal developments at Ridley Island, plus electrical and water connections for new facilities.

Billed as “Canada Starts Here: The B.C. Jobs Plan,” the tour continued Monday with a stop near Kitimat, at the site of a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal for shipping to Asia and other international customers.

Clark promised to support LNG exports by speeding up the permit process for large industrial developments, increasing skills training and promoting B.C. gas exports internationally.

The Kitimat LNG project is proposed by Encana Corp., Apache Canada Ltd. and EOG Resources Inc., investors in the Horn River shale gas region and other gas resources in northeastern B.C. Others have been proposed, and Clark said her goal is to have up to three LNG export terminals developed by 2020.

“We want to create a new industry with the capacity to export B.C.’s liquid natural gas to markets overseas,” Clark said at her Prince Rupert stop. “And if we don’t fight for this opportunity now, we could lose it.”

Australia already has LNG facilities exporting gas to Japan, which needs alternatives to its troubled nuclear power system. Australia has two LNG export facilities in operation and six more in development.

NDP MLA Carole James said Clark’s Prince Rupert announcement is a belated commitment of money to a Pacific gateway export program announced in 2006 by former premier Gordon Campbell.

The Prince Rupert and Kitimat announcements are the first stage of a week-long economic development tour being led by Clark and Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell.

Announcements are scheduled Tuesday at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, Wednesday in Clark’s speech to the Surrey Board of Trade, and a full description of the plan on Thursday in a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade.