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B.C. unattractive for oil and gas investors: survey

Fraser Institute survey finds investors deterred by regulations, land claims
A fracking well-pad in the Shell Canada Groundbirch region in Northeastern B.C. | Nelson Bennett

B.C. may have an abundance of energy resources – from liquids rich natural gas to abundant clean hydro power – but it also has an abundance of barriers to investment, making it the least attractive jurisdiction in Canada for investors, and one of the worst in North America, according to a new survey by the Fraser Institute.

The Fraser Institute’s Canada-US Energy Sector Competitiveness Survey for 2023 -- which examines 17 North American oil and gas producing regions -- places Saskatchewan at third best place in North America in terms of competitiveness – beating out Alberta.

“Saskatchewan’s third-place ranking this year places makes it the highest-ranked Canadian province,” the survey concludes.

The survey examines barriers to investment, and it found plenty in B.C.

“British Columbia (15th) was the worst performing Canadian jurisdiction, posing the greatest barriers to investment,” the survey says.

For the second year, the survey found Wyoming to be the most attractive jurisdiction for oil and gas investment, followed by North Dakota and Saskatchewan. Texas ranked sixth place and the U.S. offshore – i.e. the Gulf of Mexico – ranked seventh.

Only California (17) and Colorado (16) ranked behind B.C., in terms of barriers to investment. Not surprisingly, environmental regulations are cited as the biggest barriers.

“Investors indicated that uncertainty concerning environmental regulations, regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, and disputed land claims were more concerning in Canadian provinces than in U.S. states,” the survey says.

Uncertainty over First Nation rights and title appears to be a major barrier for investors in both B.C. and Newfoundland-Labrador.

“Specifically, among all the regions covered in the report, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador stand out as the jurisdictions where participants expressed the most significant concerns, with 83 percent and 57 percent of respondents, respectively, identifying this factor as a deterrent to investment.”

“Policies matter, and when investors are indicating they would rather invest in American states instead of several Canadian provinces, policymakers should take note,” said Julio Mejia, a policy analyst at the Fraser Institute.

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