BANFF, A.B. — The executive vice-chairman of Canada’s largest natural gas producing company says he expects a positive final investment decision for the LNG Canada export project could eventually encourage two or three other projects to follow suit.

Steve Laut of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. says the projects would eventually provide a market for gas producers who are now discouraged from increasing production by low prices linked to U.S. competition and pipeline capacity shortfalls.

Published reports have suggested LNG Canada, an estimated $40-billion gas liquefaction plant and pipeline that was delayed in 2016, could be officially sanctioned as early as next week.

But Susannah Pierce, director of external relations for the project, wouldn’t say Friday after giving a speech at the Global Business Forum in Banff whether those reports are true.

She repeated the official line that the partners – Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp., Malaysia’s Petronas, PetroChina Co. and Korea Gas Corp. – will make a decision before the end of this year.

Laut, who also spoke at the event, says Canadian Natural produces as much as 1.6 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas in Western Canada but it has shut down wells with output of 100 million cubic feet per day because of poor gas prices.