A newly announced Haisla Framework Agreement between the province and the Haisla Nation will give the area First Nation the option to acquire land for future natural gas export developments.
This would allow the Haisla to work directly with companies in developing projects.
Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross, along with Ida Chong, minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and Rich Coleman, B.C.’s minister of energy and mines, signed the agreement from Vancouver on Friday.
Haisla councillor Joanne Ross was also in attendance for the signing of the agreement.
The land available comprises approximately 700 hectares along the west side of the Douglas Channel, plus 102 hectares of what Chong called “unsubmerged land” along the waterfront.
“A key emphasis of council since our election last summer is the focus on the lands and territory,” said Ross as he addressed reporters in Vancouver. “We see land as an essential element in building a strong and sustainable economic future for the Haisla people.”
He said he has been encouraged by the B.C. government’s progress in finding “new ways to get things done” away from the treaty table.
“[This agreement] allows the Haisla to look at land in Haisla territory in a different light. It gives the Haisla and associated projects this certainty for the LNG proposals and other projects coming forward in our territory,” he said.
He said the land, which surrounds the Haisla’s own territory, referred to on maps as Haisla Reserve #6, has a lot of interest from potential developers.
Aside from the already known liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposals for this area — Shell, BC LNG Co-Op and KM LNG — speakers in Vancouver alluded to a fourth, unnamed LNG proponent for Kitimat, as well as another unnamed one for Prince Rupert to complement their two already in the works.
Ross said that the Haisla intent is to develop projects responsibly.
Chong said that Japan is the most interested market for B.C.’s natural gas, while South Korea, China and India also have expressed a lot of interest.
Coleman told reporters that the overseas price for natural gas exceeds four times the value available in North America.
Chong remarked that up to now natural gas from B.C. could only be sold in the North American market, and new LNG developments will mean getting more value for the resource.
She added that LNG proposals in the area add up to 1,400 potential ongoing jobs, and could generate $600 billion over 30 years.
The B.C. Liberals, through their B.C. Jobs Plan, have a goal to have three LNG terminals operating in the northwest by 2020.
Coleman said that it is anticipated that one could be running by 2015, while larger projects like Shell’s plant would open around 2018, with the remainder reaching to 2020.