Photo: Energy Minister Steve Thomson met with government officials, including Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm in Fort St. John, Wednesday./Sean Assor
Energy Minister Steve Thomson has been making his first official visit to the northeast since his appointment to the position in November.
Thomson says he has been touring various industry work sites near Fort Nelson and will be meeting with local government officials while he is in Fort St. John.
One item of primary concern for industry and government in the region was the recent Oil and Gas Commission decision to move its engineering base to Kelowna. Commission officials attributed the move to problems with retaining qualified engineers in the Peace River area.
In addition to his role as energy minister, Thomson also holds the portfolio of minister of natural resource operations which oversees the OGC. He says he agrees that retaining staff has been a problem for the commission but that the office’s move to Kelowna does not fully remove it from the oil and gas industry’s operations.
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The Energy Minister’s visit in Fort St. John corresponds with the first day of provincial land sales. Thomson notes that 2010 was the fourth highest year for land sales which he ascribes to the continuing prospects in the Horn River basin and the Montney Shale Play.
Thomson attributes industry interest in the northeast to the Province’s competitive tax rates and royalty program. However, he says the Province is still looking into continued development of the natural gas industry and exporting the gas to overseas markets.