Spectra Energy natural gas processing plant near Fort Nelson, part of B.C.’s extensive gas resources seeking additional markets via LNG exports. (Black Press files)

Spectra Energy natural gas processing plant near Fort Nelson, part of B.C.’s extensive gas resources seeking additional markets via LNG exports. (Black Press files)

B.C.’s natural gas taxes deter new investment, study says

Fifth highest among energy producing regions in North America

B.C.’s tax rate on new natural gas investments was 31.9 per cent in 2018, higher than all other provinces except Saskatchewan, says a new study by University of Calgary economist Jack Mintz.

The detailed tax and resource royalty comparison comes as B.C. prepares for construction of its first liquefied natural gas export facility at Kitimat, entering into the fiercely competitive international market for LNG and pipeline gas.

“Developing B.C.’s natural gas resources has been a priority for successive provincial governments, and yet its tax rate on new natural gas investments is highly uncompetitive with neighbouring and competing jurisdictions,” said Mintz, who calculated the effective tax rates in a study for the Fraser Institute.

The study compares the “marginal effective tax and royalty rate,” including corporate income taxes, sales taxes on capital purchases, capital taxes, transfer taxes, profit-based resource levies and royalties on natural gas and oil.

The calculations found B.C.’s overall tax and royalty rate is second highest in Canada, nearly five percentage points higher than the Canadian average of petroleum-producing provinces, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. It also compared the 10 highest producing U.S. states, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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The B.C. NDP government reduced taxes on LNG development in 2018, prompting the Shell-led LNG Canada consortium to green-light their $40 billion investment in an LNG plant and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline from gas fields in the Dawson Creek area to the coast.

Those tax breaks include removal of an LNG income tax from export revenues and an exemption on provincial sales tax for construction.

The study took into account Canadian government changes to accelerate depreciation tax measures for energy investment in November 2018.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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