British Columbia’s Liberal government has kept an election promise to elevate liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to a top priority by creating a ministry dedicated to developing the trade and giving the job to a senior cabinet member.

BC Deputy Premier Rich Coleman will do double duty as Minister of Natural Gas Development, Premier Christy Clark announced in unveiling the provincial cabinet Friday following her Liberals’ victory in a general election held May 14.

Coleman has risen to the second-highest BC political office in a long political career based in the suburban Vancouver-area legislature constituency of Fort Langley-Aldergrove.

Coleman is an ex-officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who also had a business career in real estate and private security, rising to local leadership rank as president of the Aldergrove Chamber of Commerce. His previous BC cabinet portfolios include energy, housing, solicitor-general, social development and forestry.

Clark’s announcement promised Coleman “will ensure that British Columbia seizes the opportunity of a lifetime, liquefied natural gas, to create tens of thousands of new jobs and establish the Prosperity Fund that will put BC on the path to becoming debt-free. He will work with investors and companies to take projects from drawing board to operation.”

The LNG vision, a central plank in the BC Liberals’ re-election platform, included an unequivocal endorsement of the controversial technology needed to make it happen: horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, intensively applied to northern BC shale deposits.

The political vision also includes eventual accumulation of C$100 billion in the promised Prosperity Fund, from royalties and taxes on growing LNG exports to Asia for prices that the government hopes will remain at least twice as high as gas on North American markets.

The lineup of export terminals proposed for the northern Pacific coast of BC has grown to nine entries, including:

Kitimat LNG, BC LNG and LNG Canada have obtained 20- to 25-year gas export licenses from the National Energy Board. None of the projects has landed Asian sales contracts large enough to justify starting construction. All the schemes remain in varying stages of business planning and regulatory review, with BC’s pro-development Liberal regime urging them on and the new cabinet gas ministry expected to ensure the provincial role in project approvals moves briskly.

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