By Michael Izen
VANCOUVER, BC/ Troy Media/ – B.C. industry leaders and politicians are excited about the prospects of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) extraction, pipelines, terminals, and shipping.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark even called it “a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, with the ability to create 100,000 new jobs.” But without strong effective communications of the details of these jobs, many people will not be ready when the jobs begin.
Up to five LNG pipelines and terminals have been proposed, stretching from the shale beds in the northeast to the ports on the west coast. At the same time, several other LNG pipelines have been proposed for the southern parts of the province, and even on Vancouver Island. These are in addition to existing LNG pipelines in B.C., and of course existing and proposed oil pipelines, which add to the confusion.
Government regulatory approvals and the final investment decisions for each proposal are at different stages. The earliest decision is expected by the end of 2014 for the Pacific Northwest LNG pipeline and terminal, backed by Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned energy company. While in Kuala Lumpur recently, Clark committed to finalizing the B.C. tax regime by November to pave the way for a final investment decision by the end of the year.
Uncertainty over approvals, multiple proponents, confusion between oil and gas, and the fact no projects are yet operational have led many people to ask: just what the frac is going on over LNG? Promises of jobs – good jobs – business opportunities, and royalties are all enticing, but what can be done now to maximize jobs for locals?
Even amid this uncertainty, there is already a hive of activity throughout the northern of the province. Pipeline proponents, investors, companies, unions, communities, First Nations, and consultants, are all seeking alliances in advance of approvals and the official starting gun.
LNG proponents and contractors discussed the opportunities at the recent National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference in Prince Rupert, while local residents attended the related job fair. Many residents asked how to get a job now, and one person asked, “Is LNG a company?” With no projects yet approved, many of these questions were greeted with vague answers, or referrals to the next trade show booth down.
When the B.C. government announced its Skills for Jobs Blueprint it cited the creation of up to 83,000 direct and indirect short-term and long-term jobs between now and 2024, up from the current 13,000 direct and indirect jobs in the industry.
But the common misconception is that all new jobs will be available to currently unemployed workers. The reality is that the jobs will be filled by a skilled workforce that will come from people already employed in construction, from the unions, and yes, from immigration and even temporary foreign workers.
For the unemployed to take advantage of these jobs, they need to know which companies will be hiring, which jobs will be available, and when, what qualifications they will need to fill the positions and, most importantly, where they can get the skills, certification and related work experience needed.
The bulk of the jobs – including engineers, administration, business services, trucking, pipefitters, welders, and many other skilled trades – will occur over the three to four years of construction, with a smaller but still significant number of jobs in the operations of the LNG port terminals, the extraction of the natural gas, and the compressor stations along the pipelines.
The time for job seekers to start preparing for the LNG boom is now. They need very specific information that explains how to get the required certification and the related work experience. For example, how can you build your experience, say as a welder, while waiting for the pipelines to be built in your area?
Without the proper information now, this once in a lifetime opportunity could pass you by.