- BC Games
Connect with Us
Minister Coleman heads to Asia, B.C. looks to close gas deals
As the latest anti-pipeline protest rally gathered on the lawn of the B.C. legislature Monday, the minister in charge of natural gas exports prepared for a sales trip to Asia.
Minister for Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman leaves Friday for South Korea, China and Malaysia to meet with multinational energy companies that are still a year away from final decisions on billions of investment in gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas plants on the North Coast.
Speaking to reporters from Vancouver Monday, Coleman said Sunday's announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rezak of a $36 billion investment by government-owned Petronas in B.C. LNG is an important step. Meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Kuala Lumpur, Rezak called the investment a "significant landmark decision," after Petronas spent $5 billion last year to buy Alberta-based gas producer Progress Energy Inc.
"Their prime minister made this announcement with our prime minister, and Petronas is owned by the government of Malaysia, so that means the boss is pretty keen on British Columbia," Coleman said.
Coleman defended the record of B.C.'s 50-year-old gas drilling industry, which was targeted along with oil proposals by about 200 chanting protesters. The group calls itself PowerShift, an extension of earlier Idle No More and Occupy protests targeting corporations, oil and gas development and greenhouse gas emissions.
"We have never had a well stem fail in British Columbia at any time since we've been doing natural gas drilling in B.C., ever," Coleman said. "We have never affected the water table."
Inside the legislature, NDP leader Adrian Dix drew attention to the empty debate chamber, on the day a fall session would have begun.
Dix said the B.C. Liberal government has abandoned its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets in the rush to develop and export vast shale gas reserves, and has avoided debate on the issue by keeping the legislature shut down until February.
The NDP has also targeted the government's budget cuts for skill training, at a time when the government says thousands of jobs will be created by expanding the gas industry.
Coleman said the government is getting close to announcing its plan for skills training to handle LNG development. His meetings in Asia will include discussions with international producers about training B.C. workers at facilities overseas.