BRITISH COLUMBIA

LNG Price, Skilled Labour Main Concerns In Asia, Says B.C. Minister

10/15/2013 08:56 EDT | Updated 12/15/2013 05:12 EST
DAEGU, South Korea - The availability of skilled labour and the price of liquefied natural gas have become the major topics of concern among investors during his trip to Asia, British Columbia's deputy premier said Tuesday.

Rich Coleman, who is also the minister of natural gas development, is currently promoting the industry in South Korea and will move onto China and Malaysia for additional meetings.

He said he has already met with the proponents of five of the 10 projects proposed for the province and will meet with two more.

"I'm here to work with the companies ... to help them to get their final investment decision to invest the billions of dollars that they're suggesting they will invest," said Coleman during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

Some of the proponents have questioned whether there will be enough skilled labour to build and operate the plants, said Coleman.

After all, Premier Christy Clark has already said the industry has the potential to create 100,000 jobs.

But Coleman said the proponents now think B.C. can deal with the issue and are willing to work on it with the province.

He also said some proponents have raised concerns about the price of LNG, but the market, not government, will determine that issue.

"We're not going to be the price takers or the price makers simply because that isn't the role of government," he said.

Coleman said he hasn't secured any new investment because the trip isn't a trade mission.

After leaving South Korea, Coleman said he will visit Beijing and then head to Malaysia where he will meet with the country's state-owned, oil-and-gas company, Petronas.

The company announced at the beginning of the month it will invest $36 billion in B.C. on an LNG plant and the pipeline to transport the gas.

Coleman said he will tour one of the largest LNG plants in the world, giving him an "on-the-ground understanding" of such projects.

Clark has said the industry could pump as much as $1 trillion into the province's economy by 2046.

-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver

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