Economic development delayed is economic development denied?
I have to admit feeling quite blue when I read that SWN is postponing its seismic testing for natural gas until 2016. I guess we all knew it was coming given the price of gas right now but it is still disappointing. Rural New Brunswick is struggling and I really felt that few of these projects – potash, the beginnings of a gas industry, maybe some more mining – would have invigorated much of the rural economy. And that would give policy makers some wiggle room to think about the equally important task of urban development in this province.
But that isn’t happening – even potash is not a sure thing – in fact, the head of PCS said it is an unlikely thing.
I realize that SWN says their postponement has nothing to do with the protest and that may be true but I can’t help but think we should have been (and should be) spending more time thinking about how we can develop markets for our own natural gas. I don’t think there has been hardly a minute given to that aspect (I have been calling for it).
An expert recently said, as one example, that the window on exporting LNG from Canada is rapidly closing. The markets that will need gas are rapidly having their supply addressed by places like British Columbia. I’m not saying this was an option for NB.
We have great energy companies and minds in our province from Irving Oil to Emera. I wish there had been a team of experts thinking about this.
The reality is that 2016 is likely a moving target until the price of gas rises considerably and there are experts now suggesting it will stay below $7 for 20 years or more as new development in the US – PA, NY, TX, etc. comes on stream. This will stymie both NB shale gas and offshore NS gas.
In the end, we might just end up reversing the MN&P pipeline and bringing shale gas from the US to serve our market. I realize there are some bottlenecks along the way but that is one possibility.
So what we do with rural and Northern NB?