In another blow to B.C.'s nascent liquefied natural gas industry, AltaGas Ltd. is shelving the development of its Douglas Channel LNG plant near Kitimat.

The decision to halt work on the project was blamed on poor economic conditions and worsening global energy prices.

"We believe the project could deliver LNG to Japan at very competitive prices," AltaGas CEO David Cornhill said Thursday.

"However, without a meaningful offtake agreement the consortium can no longer continue the development of the project."

AltaGas, along with its global partners in the project, had been aiming for the project near Kitimat, B.C., to begin exporting LNG in 2018.

The announcement comes just weeks after Shell Canada announced it was postponing its final investment decision (FID) on their huge LNG terminal proposal in Kitimat until the end of the year.

Significant decisions to come

Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said today's news does not mean B.C.'s LNG industry is in trouble.

"I don't think so," Coleman said Thursday.

"I think we've got some significant FID discussions taking place in the next 60-90 days on a couple of projects

"Obviously there's been two that have told us they want to get to their FID by end of this year...and they're much larger. This was a very small project."

The Douglas Channel project is one of the smallest of the more than 20 proposed LNG projects in Canada with the potential to export about 2.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, compared with 33 billion cubic metres for Shell's LNG Canada project.

With files from Farrah Merali and The Canadian Press