The federal government is offering tax breaks for equipment and buildings for liquefied natural gas production.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the tax breaks in Surrey Thursday with Industry Minister James Moore and three B.C. MPs.
LNG producers will be granted capital cost allowances of 30 per cent on equipment and 10 per cent on buildings, which reduce their income tax to offset construction costs. The standard rate for capital cost allowance is eight per cent for equipment and six per cent for buildings.
B.C. took a similar approach with its LNG income tax, offering credits on corporate income tax until initial plant investments are paid off.
Premier Christy Clark welcomed the federal move, which she said B.C. has lobbied hard to get as international producers have delayed final investment decisions. She said the drop in oil prices has made the decision more difficult for big companies that get part of their revenue from oil, but B.C. is competitive on LNG.
“We’re already more competitive than Australia,” Clark said. “Our real main competition in the world is the U.S. and the west coast of North America.”
NDP natural gas critic Bruce Ralston said the front-end tax credits are the right approach to take, but the federal tax break doesn’t change the economic conditions for B.C. trying to enter a global energy market.
“Our objections are the same,” Ralston said. “If LNG proponents want, as one proponent did, 70 per cent temporary foreign workers, and 70 per cent of the [greenhouse gas] emissions are not being counted, then we don’t support the plan.”
David Keane, president of the BC LNG Alliance, said the federal decision is encouraging and the industry continues to work with First Nations and other local governments to develop.