Supporter Spotlight: Bryan Cox - August 2021
“Supporter Spotlight” features Canadians with a passion for Canada’s Natural Resource sector. Our spotlight this month is Bryan Cox, President & CEO of the Canadian LNG Alliance. Bryan talks to us about the importance of LNG for our families, communities and the global environment!
Canada Action: Bryan, you are the President and CEO of the Canadian LNG Alliance. Prior to this you were the President and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia and prior to that you were the Vice President, Western Canada of Canada’s Brewing Association. You are clearly very passionate about Canadian natural resources. How did you get into such a wide variety of natural resource sectors?
Bryan: It’s great to be with you today and to have this conversation and I think that's a great place to start! I believe in big things, big ideas and bringing people together. So when you look at my career path it really stems from my upbringing. I grew up in Alberta. My father was a supplier to the oil and gas industry and we went through the downturn of the early 1980s. My dad's business was devastated and it was a really tough time for our family and I saw a tough time for many many families and that stayed with me throughout my life.
I asked myself how do we build resilient, sustainable communities and economies that are inclusive and are there for the long-term? So I really took that into my professional life. I got a degree in political science, learned about public policy and then I worked for Molson for many years. I worked with big brands that bring people together for events. Then leading into the mining industry what really attracted me to that was the connection to the lower carbon economy. It was something that wasn't really being talked about when I came into the role in 2017 but I really saw the connection that mining, metals and minerals are absolutely central to solar panels, electric cars and wind turbines. To our lower carbon and energy transition. And of course we're building in partnership with Indigenous nations and communities and doing it in the lowest emission manner with our projects.
So that's kind of what shaped my career. It was believing in big things and bringing people together in order to solve for them. The position I’m in right now is just so very exciting for me personally, to be able to connect on something that I think is really fundamentally important to how we move forward as a country, how we view our resource Industries and how they connect to every single community in the country. Whether you're in Tofino, Toronto, Vancouver or Vanderhoof we’re all tied together right?
Canada Action: LNG is what we get when we cool natural gas to -161 degrees celsius. Liquefying reduces the volume of natural gas by more than 600 times which is similar to reducing the volume of a beach ball to the volume of a ping-pong ball. It then takes up a fraction of the space than it does as a gas which allows it to be exported overseas to countries that are looking to switch from coal power to lower-carbon natural gas (like the Asian market). Natural gas is the single largest form of energy used in Canadian homes, with over 6 million homeowners using natural gas to heat their homes, hot water and cook meals. Today about 30% of Canada’s entire energy needs are met by natural gas. How important is LNG to Canada’s energy mix and to the planet’s energy mix?
Bryan: As we know, we are in the midst of an energy transformation. And Canada has a real Central role to play because we are endowed with so many natural resources, ingenuity, people power, as well as the ESG metrics, which I'm sure we'll talk about a little bit, to get that done. Natural gas is really at the centre of that because I really think that LNG and natural gas are an accelerator to the outcomes we want to get to which are decarbonisation, economic recovery and reconciliation with our Indigenous peoples. So natural gas is incredibly important.
Yes as the fuel that we use for every day but also as an opportunity to really solve the challenges that we have here domestically in Canada and really importantly to the world as well because there's massive amounts of the world that are looking to decarbonize and also to get out of energy poverty. And they’re looking to do so with the most affordable, reliable and lowest carbon energy. It's estimated that over half of the natural gas demand will come from countries with net zero commitment themselves, so what we need to look at is the multiple pathways that are required to get to decarbonisation.
I think it requires a new energy dialogue, particularly in Canada where we’ve been talking about one solution to the exclusion of other solutions and I think our opportunity now moving forward is to talk about how it's going to take multiple pathways to decarbonize as quickly as we can because that is the goal. LNG has a very important role to play in that, in partnership with many other solutions, so I think that's the way that we can engage in a dialogue on that.
Canada Action: Globally, Canada is the fourth largest producer and sixth largest exporter of natural gas. Canadian marketable resources of natural gas can sustain current production levels for up to 300 years. It is said that between 2020 and 2064, more than $92 billion in revenue could be generated for provinces and territories in Canada. Of this total, nearly $78 billion would accrue to British Columbia which comes out to an excess of $8 billion annually, an increase in the province’s GDP of more than three per cent. Alberta’s GDP would see an annual increase of $1.6 billion, Ontario would be $1 billion and for Quebec, the benefits would total $222 million a year. With over $2 billion in annual tax and royalty payments, the LNG sector would become one of the largest revenue generating industries for British Columbia. How important is LNG for Canada’s Economic recovery in a post COVID world?
Bryan: It's incredibly important and I think we are seeing it right now. The LNG Canada project in construction right now is the largest private sector investment in our country's history. When you look at the economy of British Columbia, particularly during COVID, and how it's remained relatively stable, it's in large part to do with that investment and the jobs in construction and economic activity that is coming from the LNG Canada and coastal gaslink project. So we’re seeing it as we speak, what a project like that can do - and we can have more.
The numbers that you cited were from a Conference Board of Canada report that was done last year which was all around what if we grew the LNG sector in British Columbia. What would that look like for the Canadian economy and really importantly what that report shows - and I encourage your readers to go and take a look at that on the conference Board of Canada website - what the benefits to the Canadian economy are from what happens in British Columbia and western Canada. How that has a positive impact across the entire economy. The report shows that it doesn't matter what sector you’re in. When we grow the economy everyone wins. And so you can be in manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, finance… A growing economy rises the tide of all boats.
So it's absolutely essential in an industry like LNG because it's a growth industry. And so there’s incredible opportunity for our country and incredible opportunity particularly for partnerships with our Indigenous communities.
Canada Action: On June 15th you posted an article on your website where you talk about how the LNG industry is collaborating on a new model of Indigenous participation in the natural resource sector in Canada. Including an unprecedented Nation-led environmental assessment process and agreements with First Nations bands in place for jobs, training, and procurement opportunities with the shared goal of working towards economic reconciliation. Can you talk about these new initiatives and environmental processes and how it affects Indigenous communities around Canada?
Bryan: This truly is an incredible opportunity for our country to move forward together. I think when you look at an industry like LNG, that’s been conceived from the very beginning in partnership with Indigenous communities, you’re seeing so many learnings that have come from it. You’re getting to see the hard work in the conversations that have occurred between Indigenous nations proponents, governments and communities. So when you look at what's happening in particular with the Haisla nation and how they have been able to partner on that particular LNG project, that doesn’t happen overnight. That’s years and years of conversations, dialogue and trust building and it leads to those moments.
What we are seeing now is the Haisla nation with their own LNG project. They are owners of the Cedar LNG project which is an incredibly exciting project. We recently saw an announcement on the partnership with Pembina Pipeline, the Cedar LNG project and the Haisla nation. We’re seeing this progression in partnership and equity ownership positions and that’s what leads to the generational change within communities and the ability to truly reconcile. So that's where an industry like LNG really has an opportunity, because it’s a growth industry, to really look at how proponents, Indigenous nations, governments and communities can come together to ensure that we build an economy that’s inclusive. We are living it right now in the LNG industry and we’re looking to provide more opportunities for that to occur.
Canada Action: LNG is not corrosive nor toxic and does not mix with water or soil. If released, it dissipates into the air. LNG is also being used in Canada to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. Truck fleets and the shipping industry are switching to LNG from diesel and heavy marine fuel to help reduce emissions and cut air pollution. In British Columbia, BC Ferries has switched several vessels from diesel to natural gas to help reduce their emissions and help reduce local air pollution. How important is LNG’s role when we talk about a greener future?
Bryan: This is about the multiple pathways conversation and LNG Is an important solution. It's about the right solution in the right place at the right time. And that’s really the story of energy because when you look at Canada, even each province has a very different energy structure, yet alone the entire world! And so where LNG is very important is in that ability to displace higher emitting fuels overseas in other countries and also provide that reliable, affordable, lower emission energy. So you have an opportunity for LNG to displace coal in those countries.
And again this is not an either or and I think that’s where the dialogue needs to happen. This is not LNG in place of renewables. We need all renewables and we need all the solutions we can get. That’s why this is sometimes framed as an “either or” when it’s not. If you look at China alone, there’s over 400 million people. That’s 10 times the population of Canada that doesn't have access to clean cooking fuels. When you think about that and what’s happening to families and what that does to human health, that’s just one example. There’s probably a billion more people in the world who don’t have access to that clean cooking fuel. So it’s about cooking fuel, it’s about electricity, it’s about transportation, it’s about industrial, and that’s the versatility of a fuel like LNG natural gas.
We enjoy all of those applications in our daily lives. Those can be solutions. You talked about the marine sector. That’s a very important part of what we’re building here. You look at the Tillbury project in BC, that’s around marine bunkering. You think about the fuel switch from diesel fuel to LNG, all that you described around LNG turning to gas and dissipating is incredibly important in a marine environment. When you think about emissions and what that solution can make on the pathway to other solutions like hydrogen, that’s truly the really interesting part of LNG.
Canada Action: The LNG industry has one of the longest safe shipping records of any industry- over 60 years without a single loss of containment. LNG is a liquid and does not burn and is not explosive because liquids don’t have enough oxygen to allow combustion or burning. There are currently close to 400 LNG carriers in operation around the world, and over 80,000 LNG cargos have been delivered since 1964 without a single cargo lost. Yet if you watch the news or go online you might still get the feeling that disasters are happening all the time. What are some of the misconceptions people have about LNG?
Bryan: I think it goes to how we engage with energy. In Canada we tend not to think about energy too much because it's so abundant. We flick on the lights and the lights go on. We turn on our stoves and our stoves go on. We don’t engage in it in the same way as other jurisdictions or underdeveloped nations do. They have to plan their days around when their electricity grids will be working.
So when it comes to your misconceptions about LNG natural gas, we forget that it's something that we interact with every day. That heats our homes in the winter time, that cooks our steaks on the BBQ, that has all of these applications throughout our own lives. So what are we trying to do? We’re trying to get that fuel to parts of the world that are looking for solutions. Reducing energy poverty. Cleaner air. Reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. That's a real opportunity for Canada to be a helping nation. Why? Because we have the lowest emission LNG projects that are in development and proposed. We have an incredibly low carbon basin, we have really high ESG metrics and you put the I in there for Indigenous, which is something we have an opportunity in Canada to do - you look at Canada as a producer of choice for LNG and you look at where the market is currently going. The market is going to lowest emission LNG products. We’ve got carbon neutral cargos that are being shipped right now. Lowest emission LNG is being sought after.
So I would contend that now is the time for Canada’s LNG because of the work that we’ve undertaken to develop these projects and because now we have this rally to decarbonize, the lowest emission commodity should be the commodity of choice and that can be Canada.
Canada Action: Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” has been used to develop natural gas in Canada for more than 70 years. It is a short-term process that lasts anywhere from one to three days, where water, sand, and small amounts of additives are pumped down a well under pressure. This fracturing fluid is actually 99.5% water and the pressure causes the rock to fracture, creating small fissures that allow the natural gas to flow safely through a cement-lined wellbore to the surface. Shale reservoirs that contain natural gas are found 2,000 to 3,000 metres below the ground. As a comparison, Toronto’s CN Tower is 550 metres tall. Canada is known for its very stringent environmental rules and regulations. What are some of the technology advances that have improved fracking practices over the years? (And has made it safer for the air, water and land)
Bryan: This is an opportunity yet again to humanize and see each other. The folks that work in this industry in Northeast British Columbia and Alberta, they are fellow Canadians and they go to work every single day wanting to do the right things and are engaged in an industry that they're proud of. In Canada, our regulations are incredibly stringent around natural resource extraction, particularly in the upstream natural gas industry.
We are world leaders in how we extract natural gas and companies individually and in consortiums are having incredible success continuing innovations. Reusing the water that's used in the process. That’s happening as we speak. Minimization of land disturbance. In the past, decades ago, you needed to drill multiple well pads to extract natural gas. Now you’re able to do that from one particular well pad and that's been facilitated through advancements in drilling. There's an incredible amount of safety taken into consideration and we are truly world-leading in that.
So I'm a big believer that it's important to get what I call front foot on what's happening out there because I think in the past we haven't told our story. Companies haven’t told their stories. Companies have an opportunity to talk about what is happening out there. The constant and continuous Improvement that's not done in isolation. That is done in partnership with governments, Indigenous nations and communities.
Folks that get a chance to go up to Northeast British Columbia and tour… that changes their perspective because you see what's actually happening. You see the passion. You see the innovation. And I think that provides a huge amount of trust to fellow Canadians that we do things the right way and we are continuously improving.
Canada Action: There was recently a situation with Line 5, an offshoot of Enbridge’s main pipeline. LNG flows efficiently through pipelines and is a preferred method of transportation. Is pipeline pushback the only challenge the LNG sector faces? What are the main challenges the sector faces in the next 5 to 10 years?
Bryan: I think that the real opportunity is to have an updated dialogue about what is our energy dialogue in Canada. We’re hearing “are fossil fuels even needed anymore”? There's a big conversation around that. Well natural gas and LNG are absolutely a part of the solution and we are in the midst of an energy transformation so I think that one of the biggest opportunities for us is to continue to engage in that dialogue around the multiple pathways that are needed.
LNG is a growth industry, it's about building. Other Industries are about maintaining them. Building things can be very controversial. The only way forward for us is to continue to build an industry like LNG so we need to have that updated energy dialogue. Why are we doing this? We need an industry like LNG to rally around decarbonisation to solve the challenges of today. To solve for economic recovery.
We’re now pivoting out of COVID and we need to rebuild our economy and build that strong, inclusive, sustainable economy for the long term. Our natural resources are at the center of that. The demand is there and we can be the producer of choice.
Canada Action: Why do you think all Canadians should care about Canadian natural resource development? Is there any kind of message that you want to tell Canadians reading this?
Bryan: We are in the midst of an energy transformation and we have an opportunity to rally in this country around decarbonization. Our natural resources in Canada are at the centre of that so it's about connecting. We need to connect our country together. We are very polarized right now and you know over COVID, nobody’s been travelling across the country. We've all been in our own neighborhoods and we really need to reconnect. The natural resources industries particularly.
An industry like LNG is an industry that truly touches the entire country, which is why a report like the Conference Board of Canada is so important to look at. You take downtown Toronto, there are so many companies that are working in the finance or legal space that actually serve mining companies, natural gas companies. So many financial institutions are driven by our natural resource Industries and sometimes we don't make those connections.
So we need to continue to link urban-rural divide. We have so many bridges to cross in our country and I see LNG at the centre of that, being able to connect Canadians together to talk about big things and doing big things in an inclusive manner. That's where I really think this is important. The opportunity is that by coming together we actually achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve which are building those strong, healthy communities for the long term.
Canada Action: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Bryan: What I will say is that we need to ensure, as we move forward, that everyone sees themselves as part of the solution. In order to achieve the goals that we need to achieve we need to have inclusive dialogues because we're all part of the solution. This isn't just something for a few of us to solve. This is an opportunity for all of us and that's what quickens solutions. When people feel included and part of it. That’s what I will leave your readers with.
If you work in the natural resource space or you're around that you are part of the solution. This is our opportunity to re-engage as a country moving forward. About how we do that in the most inclusive manner in order to solve all of those day-to-day things that we want: those strong healthy vibrant inclusive communities.
Canada Action: Bryan, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today.
Bryan: Thank you!
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