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Associations prep members for a possible LNG boom

Peter Caulfield
Associations prep members for a possible LNG boom

The president of the B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association says liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in B.C. will have a huge impact on his members.

"Construction of an LNG plant and BC Hydro’s Site C dam will create a shortage of skilled workers," said Jack Davidson.

"LNG operations will be able to pay higher wages, which will allow LNG constructors to poach our members’ skilled workers. We will see a shortage of project managers and supervisors.  And the prices for labour, supplies and equipment will go up."

But Davidson also foresees a positive side of LNG development for B.C.’s heavy construction industry.

"There will be lots of opportunities for heavy civil contractors," he said.

"For example, work camp and plant site preparation, pipeline rights-of-way and access roads."

Davidson said an LNG plant will be a nice bonus for the industry.

"The major works inventory has never been higher," he said

"Site C and other BC Hydro work, mining and forestry,  and the Ministry of Transportation’s ‘BC on the Move’ 10-year plan, even without LNG development, will keep roadbuilders working."

Davidson said his association has been preparing its members for potential LNG projects.

"Our association is part of an industry initiative to pull together an organization that will help construction companies find skilled workers," he said.

"We are also scrambling to start our own training program to help develop our heavy civil skilled work force."

Manley McLachlan, president of the B.C. Construction Association, said his organization has also been on top of LNG development for its members.

"We have been staying in close touch with such organizations as the B.C. government and the BC LNG Alliance," he said.

"We meet with them on an ongoing basis. As a result, we’re very aware of the LNG industry’s needs."

McLachlan said there will be huge opportunities arising from LNG development for every company in the B.C. construction industry.

"It will have a wide and diverse impact," he said.

"There are many components to an LNG project. It requires site work, pipelines, concrete, reinforcing steel, as well as construction work around the plants, such as accommodations for the workers who are building the LNG plants.

Some plants could require accommodations for 5,000 workers."

Although the larger construction companies are expected to be the first beneficiaries of LNG development, McLachlan said there will also be work for smaller contractors and sub-trades.

"There will be a growing number of opportunities for small – and medium-sized companies to expand, as the larger businesses take on LNG projects," he said.

"And, eventually it will affect every region in BC."

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia (ACEC-BC) has also been preparing its members for possible LNG projects.

"We’re well connected with the LNG industry," said president and CEO Keith Sashaw.

"We have had speakers from the Woodfibre and the Shell LNG projects come to association meetings and talk about their projects. And, we cover developments in the  association newsletter."

Sashaw said LNG development will be huge for engineers in B.C.

"Nothing gets built until the engineers design the plans," he said.

"It will mean lots of work for everyone and the work will be very welcome. Some of our members are in the resource sector, which is soft now."

Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), said LNG development in B.C. will reach beyond its positive impact on his association’s members.

"When a major international corporation thinks B.C. is a good place to invest, that sends a positive message to other investors in the world," Hochstein said.

"So, the whole province stands to benefit from LNG development."

But as optimistic as ICBA’s members are about LNG development, they’re not counting their proverbial chickens before they’re hatched.

"LNG has been talked about for a long time," Hochstein said.

"The projects need to become more real for our members to start building them into their business plans."

The construction industry is a show-me industry,  he said.  "It needs to see a real project in order to become believers."

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