The industry-touted “mega natural gas announcement of unprecedented scope” in Alaska may give pause, or even derail, plans to develop those resources in the Yukon and particularly in the rest of Canada.
Three of the biggest energy companies in the world, plus a fourth player, TransCanada Corp, have joined forces with the State of Alaska to exploit trillions of cubic feet of natural gas buried in Alaska’s North Slope. The enabling legislation, being passed this spring, includes a historic decision by the State of Alaska to become a 25 per-cent partner with three U.S. companies proposing this project.
This will make the state a major player in the development and operations of the liquefied natural gas project, and sharing in the ensuing billions of dollars of revenue. In addition, the project is also offering native corporations and municipalities investment opportunities to try and avoid objections from these sources.
There are many lessons to be learned here by provincial and territorial governments in Canada that are involved in, or affected by similar resource developments. And first on the list are the many advantages that accrue to governments when they become major equity partners in resource developments.
The Quebec government long ago reached that conclusion with the development of their hydro and other energy projects resulting in billions of dollars of revenue, and the development of Quebec-based private sector companies. And now, we are seeing that most First Nations, Metis and Inuit development corporations have demanded or otherwise acquired equity stakes, as well as other project impact benefits, when any resource developments take place on their lands.
Perhaps other Canadian governments, including the Yukon government, will benefit from examining and catching up to these extraordinary developments taking place in Alaska, from the successful experiences of Quebec and a growing number of native corporations. They could then re-examine the circumstances that govern developments affecting their lands and waters and become real players in these critical sectors of our economy.
Ken de la Barre