Energy ministers representing a trio of western Canadian provinces -- British Columbia (BC), Alberta and Saskatchewan -- Thursday signed an agreement aimed at expanding the region's energy sector, including targeting Asian countries for energy exports.

"The demand for energy is growing worldwide, and this is an opportunity for us to work together to meet these needs while making sure our resources are developed in a responsible manner," said BC Energy Minister Steve Thomson.

The pact is aimed at attracting investment, stimulating job creation and strengthening the region's economy. The ministers said they will get to work immediately on unlocking Asian markets.

"As a dependable, responsible and secure source of energy, our exports account for billions of dollars of economic activity and thousands of jobs across Canada," said Ron Liepert, Alberta energy minister. "This partnership will help to further break down barriers to trade both within Canada and to international markets, like Asia, where demand for our energy continues to grow."

Efforts are under way to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) liquefaction facility at Bish Cove in BC. Backers of the Kitimat LNG project recently filed with the Canadian government for an export license (see Daily GPI, Dec. 13). Recently the project was given good odds of moving forward by analysts at PIRA Energy Group, although they noted obstacles along the way for Kitimat and two LNG export projects proposed for the U.S. Gulf Coast (see Daily GPI, Dec. 16).

Longer-term projects of the western province trio are expected to include regulatory streamlining, continued promotion of the region's energy goods and investment opportunities, and acceleration of the development and use of green energy sources.

"Our three jurisdictions have a wealth of energy resources that are not only contributing to continental energy security but can also meet, and are meeting the energy needs of countries around the world," said Bill Boyd, Saskatchewan energy minister.

The agreement builds on the New West Partnership, which was signed in April and commits the three provinces to collaboration strengthening the western Canada economy.

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