Western Canadian province to promote LNG exports
* British Columbia wants three LNG plants by 2020
* Part of upcoming provincial jobs plan
* Apache among backers of LNG export terminals
CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 19 (Reuters) - British Columbia said on Monday it will promote development of a liquefied natural gas export industry as the Canadian province seeks to bolster economic activity while wrestling with a multibillion-dollar deficit.
The government of the Pacific coast province, known for massive shale gas reserves, said it will speed up permitting of coastal plants, which would allow first exports of LNG by 2015. The goal is to have three plants in place by 2020.
Several companies have proposed LNG plants, led by a consortium including Apache Corp (APA.N), EOG Resources (EOG.N) and Encana Corp (ECA.TO). The group aims to have a $4.5 billion facility in place in the port city of Kitimat in that time frame, allowing them to sell western Canadian gas supplies to Asia for the first time.
Promoting LNG exports is part of a job-creation plan to be announced on Thursday. As part of the initiative, Premier Christy Clark's government will collaborate with native communities and other levels of government to help accelerate development of plants to liquefy natural gas so it can be shipped in tankers.
It will also work with the industry on job training and attracting investment, it said. The government will release details on training programs in the coming months.
British Columbia's Montney and Horn River gas deposits are estimated to be among the largest shale gas reserves in North America, and energy companies are spending billions of dollars to develop the resources and increase production.
However, weak North American gas markets have prompted companies including Apache and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) to seek out richer markets, such as those in Asia, and LNG plants are needed to ship the supplies overseas.
The National Energy Board is considering an application from the Apache-led Kitimat LNG group for a 20-year export license.
Two weeks ago, the provincial government said it expects to record a C$2.8 billion ($2.83 billion) deficit for the current fiscal year and C$805 million next year, after voters chose to scrap a new sales tax.
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson)
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