UPDATE 2-Centrica, Qatar buy C$1 billion of gas assets in Canada
* Centrica, QPI acquire Western Canada natural gas
* Pay C$1 bln for Suncor conventional operations
* Production of 250 mmcf/d from 978 bfc of reserves
* Suncor shifting focus to unconventional gas
* Proceeds could be used for share buyback
* Suncor shares down 3.6 pct (Recasts with details on acquisition, adds Suncor share-price move and analyst's comment)
April 15 (Reuters) - Britain's Centrica Plc and Qatar Petroleum International said on Monday they will buy Suncor Energy Inc's conventional natural-gas business in Western Canada for C$1 billion ($986.73 million), their first acquisition since they decided in 2011 to hunt jointly for international energy assets.
Centrica, Britain's biggest energy supplier and its partner, the international arm of the world's largest liquefied-natural gas exporter, will take control of Suncor gas assets in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan that produce 250 million cubic feet per day from reserves pegged at 978 billion cubic feet.
When combined with its other Canadian gas properties, the acquisition will give Centrica 60 percent of the gas needed for its Direct Energy unit, which delivers energy to six million customers in Canada and the United States, while Qatar gets its first exposure to the Canadian natural gas industry. Continued...