LNG: The race for the next ‘Fort McMurray’ – by Drew Hasselback (National Post – May 22, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

You’ve been hearing about the many liquefied natural gas projects that are planned for British Columbia’s west coast over the next few years. What you might not know is the degree to which LNG is already dominating the work done by energy lawyers in Calgary.

The oil sands are still chugging along, and the battle to build oil pipelines won’t end soon — especially with the surprise re-election of the pipeline friendly BC Liberals in British Columbia. The oil files alone can fill the desks of a great many energy lawyers. Yet the chase for LNG projects is well underway. There’s a bit of a gold rush mentality in the air.

“LNG feels like the next Fort McMurray,” says Chad Schneider, a partner with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Calgary. Adds Brock Gibson, chairman of Blakes: “People are already working around-the-clock on those deals.”

“Each of the larger projects would be amongst the largest things ever constructed in B.C.,” says Paul Wilson, a partner in the Vancouver office of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. “It’s probably more than half of what we’re doing day to day.”

Proponents are backing the development of at least 10 multi-billion dollar LNG plants for B.C.’s west coast. Many are early stage proposals, and not all will be built. Mountains of paperwork and millions of dollars in fees are needed to transform such complicated projects from dream to reality. Yet the projects are backed by some well-financed and technically able players — BG Group PLC, Imperial Oil Ltd., Nexen Inc., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, just to name a few. It would be a mistake to dismiss the arrival of a large scale, Canadian LNG industry as a pipe dream. “I don’t think you have companies like that investing in things that aren’t going to work,” Mr. Wilson says.

Law firms have seen the industry coming and prepared accordingly. Global law firm Norton Rose LLP (which will become Norton Rose Fulbright in June) has been involved in various aspects of about 50 LNG plants around the world. The Calgary office of Norton Rose Canada therefore recognized how much work would emanate from the Canadian projects.

“We decided some time ago that this was going to be a priority area for us in terms of our practice and we geared up for that,” says Nick Kangles, a Norton Rose partner in Calgary. “They’re big projects and I can see that potentially from what you’ve read in the press, you wouldn’t have a correct impression of the amount of activity that’s going on.”

“Our country needs LNG,” says Janice Buckingham, a partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Calgary. “We are facing competition from projects in the U.S. and Australia.”

For the rest of this article, click here: http://business.financialpost.com/2013/05/22/lng-the-race-for-the-next-fort-mcmurray/

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