Nathan Cullen doesn’t understand why federal customs authorities want to place a $100 million duty on a floating platform which would contain a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant planned for the Kitimat area.
The NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley said attempts to find answers have, so far, met with silence.
The floating platform which would be moored offshore in the Douglas Channel is part of the planned Douglas Channel LNG being promoted by Calgary energy company AltaGas and partners.
At an estimated $600 million, the project is one of the smallest LNG projects being proposed but also one of the more advanced because it would take natural gas from the existing Pacific Northern Gas pipeline already servicing northwestern B.C.
But federal customs officials last year ruled the floating platform is a ship and slapped on the $100 million duty using regulations designed to encourage domestic ship building.
In this circumstance the platform would be built at an Asian site and towed across the Pacific.
AltaGas has appealed the ruling, saying the platform does not have the characteristics of a navigable vessel and have been waiting for the results of the appeal since late last fall.
In a letter sent in December to federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale, Cullen noted that the duty would add to the cost of the project.
“This represents a tremendous barrier for this small-scale but important project, which has strong support from local communities and First Nations,” wrote Cullen to Goodale, who is responsible for the Canadian Border Service Agency.
Cullen now says he’ll redouble efforts to find out what is happening.
“It would seem there is a relatively easy fix,” said Cullen this week in emphasizing that importing the planned floating platform for Douglas Channel LNG would not contravene the reasoning behind the customs duty provision which is to protect Canadian shipbuilders.
“There’s some urgency. Here we have a project which has a lot of [local] support. You’d think the government would be in support at a time when there isn’t a lot of economic activity,” said Cullen.
Last fall when AltaGas officials announced they were appealing the duty decision, they said it would also affect several other LNG projects planning to use floating platforms.