Recent History – 2002-2003
September 17, 2003, By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
The largest monthly sale of petroleum and natural gas rights in the province’s history will be a boon for the South Peace according to Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom.
“This is just the beginning for Peace River South,” he said at a press conference in his Dawson Creek office Tuesday afternoon. “We are probably talking about billions of dollars of investment.”
The record sale of $418 million occurred last Wednesday and matches the record previously set for the entire fiscal year in 2000-01. Approximately $409 million of the sale is for rights in the South Peace. A large portion of this land lies between Dawson Creek, Chetywnd and Tumbler Ridge.
“This is a world class sale,” he said. “At the end of the day this is
going to benefit all of B.C.”
Lekstrom predicts various spin offs to impact a wide variety of service industries in the area. He hopes that governmental initiatives will help to bolster the local economy. In the past, firms from Alberta have brought in their own work crews to facilitate the drilling.
“I think we will see a transition,” Lekstrom said. “When companies come here we don’t want to see them bringing in their contractors, we want to be able to service the industry locally.”
Lekstrom credits his government’s oil and gas development strategy with helping to pave the way for the sale. He said that with government regulations and taxation trimmed, investors see the province as a more viable place to invest.
“A lot of the changes that we made have all combined to put the notion out there that B.C. is open for business,” he said.
He added that strict regulations exist to make sure the environmental impact is minimized.
Local environmentalist Don Pettit is hopeful about the economic impact the increased industry will bring, but he is also leery of the environmental price that will be paid by the region.
“There is a pollution issue,” he said. “Even just the increase in truck traffic will affect the air quality.”
Pettit went on to say that he hopes that some of the money generated from the sale of the gas rights could be invested in more renewable energy sources. He pointed to a recent study that fingered Dawson Creek as an ideal place to explore wind generated electricity.
“There is no doubt that thousands of new wells will have a significant impact in the region,” he said. “We can hope that the benefits outweigh the negatives.”