Posted on Nov 2, 2018

Diversifying Alberta’s economy

Sherwood Park News - November 2, 2018

Fighting the recession and protecting Alberta families was our government’s first priority. Instead of making a bad situation worse, we protected funding for health care and education. We kept Albertans working by investing in infrastructure; building hundreds of badly-needed new schools such as Fultonvale, Ardrossan, Davidson Creek and Wye Elementary — underway to open next school year. As the economy gets stronger it’s time to talk about how we secure the recovery for the long term and build an economy to last — one where no Albertan is left behind.
The Energy Diversification Act, which was rejected by the UCP in the legislature, builds upon Alberta’s traditional strengths and, for us here in Strathcona County, focuses on our local economy. It recognizes the importance that our county’s downstream energy sector has on Alberta’s economy as a whole. It moves us away from the boom-and-bust policies of the past without sacrificing our leadership in oil and gas.
We’re blessed with a greater variety of natural resources than anywhere in the world. But right now, we’re not getting full value for them. As we fight for new pipelines and a better price for our oil, our vision is about creating the right conditions for diversifying our energy sector and building on our strengths. Developing our raw resources into higher-value products before exporting them makes good economic sense: it opens new markets, creates jobs, and ensures we get top dollar for our resources.
The Petrochemical Diversification Program is about keeping money here in Alberta. As a result of the first round of funding, Inter Pipeline will receive up to $200 million to build an integrated petrochemicals complex that will process propane into value-added plastics products. Construction is well underway on this $3.5-billion facility right here in the Industrial Heartland. This facility will take propane and process it through two stages to become a much better product that’s used in manufacturing plastics products like packaging and auto parts. Applications for the second round of the program closed Oct. 1, 2018 and government is excited by the number and quality of the applications received. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements on this program.
Another program introduced this spring, under the Energy Diversification Act, is the Partial Upgrading Program which will provide up to $1 billion in grants and loan guarantees to encourage companies to build two to five bitumen upgrading facilities. Partial upgrading refers to new technologies that reduce the thickness of bitumen so it doesn’t need to be blended with diluent to flow through pipes. This commitment will significantly accelerate the commercialization of new made-in-Alberta petroleum products. Partial upgrading will diversify our product range, allow us to ship to more refineries, and allow us to ship more product on existing and new pipelines. This will result in increased royalties for Albertans but the amount will depend on the specific technologies that are successfully commercialized. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen much faster under our government.
Upgrading raw resources into higher-valued products is at the heart of Alberta’s energy diversification vision. Our investment into these projects helps attract investment, create jobs and broaden Alberta’s tax base over the long term, which in turn supports social services such as healthcare and education.
Jason Kenney seems to think the economy will diversify on its own. But Albertans know we need a plan to get off the boom-and-bust roller coaster. Albertans deserve a government with a real plan to diversify our economy and ensure this economic recovery is built to last.

Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: strathcona.sherwoodpark@assembly.ab.ca