Skilled Oil, Gas Workers Needed by Petronas if BC LNG Terminal Approved

Skilled oil and gas workers are likely to find a wealth of employment opportunities north of the U.S. border in British Columbia (B.C.) in the coming months as Malaysia’s Petronas prepares to hire hundreds of workers for a liquefied natural gas venture, according to The Globe and Mail, a Toronto-based newspaper.

A possible dearth of skilled Canadian workers is expected to open up opportunities for skilled foreign workers, who could represent nearly 40 percent of the expected total workforce of 4,000 workers at the Lelu Island terminal site during the peak of construction, The Globe and Mail said.

“It comes down to the ability to source Canadian labor, both the numbers that we need and the expertise that we need,” Pacific Northwest LNG Michael Culbert said in a recent interview, adding that if Canadians were available to do the job, they would be hired.

The initial state of construction, lasting about three years, will see Canadian workers making up about 70 percent of the workforce, according to Pacific Northwest LNG statistics, as reported by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. However, during the later stages of construction, opportunities for foreign workers will increase due to the specialized skills involved, and as much as 70 percent of the onsite workforce is expected to be foreign during this phase of construction.

The use of foreign labor is a sensitive subject in Canada, and rules for the temporary foreign worker program have been tightened to lessen the likelihood of abuses.

The total cost of the project is expected to be as much as $36 billion or more, and Pacific Northwest LNG recently announced that it was delaying its final investment decision as it seeks to reduce costs for the construction of the terminal, The Globe and Mail said.

About $8 billion of the $11.4 billion in construction costs for the British Columbia export plant are expected to be spent on foreign goods and services.

If the project is approved by Pacific Northwest LNG, approximately 500 workers will be needed in 2H 2015, and 2,500 workers will be needed the following year as construction gets underway. Because of the timing of the project, there will be competition for workers in Alberta’s oil sands, The Globe and Mail said.

Other projects – including two planned for Kitimat in northwest B.C. – are expected to compete for labor, thus further tightening the labor pool, The Globe and Mail said.

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