Premier Christy Clark addresses Truck Loggers' Association convention in Victoria Thursday.

Clark plans pitch to laid-off oil workers

Premier Christy Clark sticks to prediction of three LNG export plants by 2020, as oil and gas prices drop

Premier Christy Clark says the sudden drop in oil and gas prices might delay her government’s push for liquefied natural gas exports, but she is sticking to her latest prediction of three LNG export facilities in B.C. by 2020.

In a speech to the annual Truck Loggers’ Association convention in Victoria Thursday, Clark put a brave face on the global skid in energy markets and emphasized the need for more forestry workers. As she did the previous day at a natural resources forum in Prince George, Clark mentioned her government’s tentative plan to place ads at Fort McMurray airport urging B.C. workers to “come home” for job openings expected here as oil sands operations slow down.

Retirements and a recovery in the U.S. housing market will open up thousands of jobs in the forest industry, which will compete with LNG developments for equipment operators and other skilled workers, Clark told logging company executives.

Optimism for LNG is harder to find in the current world market, with some analysts saying U.S. gas exports are not competitive based on current price forecasts and competition from cheap oil.

A surge of new shale gas supply from the U.S. and other countries was already driving down LNG prices before crude oil dropped below $50 a barrel in recent weeks.

The price drop prompted the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors to downgrade its 2015 forecast for rig activity by 36 per cent this week. The association was forecasting nearly 11,000 oil and gas wells to be completed in Western Canada this year, but has cut that to 6,600 because of the price drop.