Posted on Feb 28, 2018

Energy Diversification is at the forefront

Sherwood Park News - February 28, 2018

Albertans are tired of selling our raw product at a discount. I have spoken to many folks that want to see our province refine our own products. With partial upgrading, up to 30-per-cent of Alberta’s oil pipelines would be freed up, without the need for adding diluent to the bitumen. In addition, it diversifies our product range, allowing us to ship to more refineries and to ship more product on existing and new pipelines. This will result in increased royalties for Albertans.

Albertans are all too familiar with the roller coaster of oil and gas prices. To cushion the boom-and-bust cycle, refining and production tend to be up when industries focused on extraction are down, meaning they act as an effective hedge against the volatility of commodity markets. For workers, that means job stability.

Since being elected in 2015, I have attended various tours organized in the Industrial Heartland and have met industries that are leading on resource diversification. The projections say that there is about $26 billion in private sector project potential that we need to be proactive in pursuing.

Throughout my time in the legislature, I have supported bills that would enable these types of investments in Strathcona County. This is important as the market is competitive when it comes to retaining top value for our oil products.

Many remember how our current energy sector was shaped, and it started with former Premier Lougheed’s vision for a value-added sector. After Lougheed, investors will tell you the government failed to provide industry with mechanisms to be competitive against other jurisdictions. We need to keep in mind that the United States has aggressively pursued this market. Canada and Alberta need the tools to be able to come to the table with industry, and say we want this form of investment and are willing to recognize the challenges like capital investment being 10- to 15-per-cent more than in other areas.

Building on the values of Lougheed, in the fall of 2016, Premier Rachel Notley established the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC). This body was formed to explore and seize opportunities that will position Alberta’s energy industry for long-term success and build on existing successes like the $500-million Petrochemical Diversification Program (PDP). The PDP program, as mentioned in the past, has resulted in announcements of private investment with Inter Pipeline and Pembina. The committee released its final report at the end of February 2018 and we are now taking action — supporting the full-scale commercialization of partial upgrading technologies.

Alongside this diversification program, our energy infrastructure is top of mind. While the B.C. wine boycott has been shelved for now, focus must remain on breaking the pipeline land-lock.

Many of you wrote to me as to what we could do to really exemplify that both B.C. and Alberta’s economies have much to gain from working together. Given B.C.’s decision to step back from the brink, we felt that it was appropriate — for the time being — to suspend the ban on B.C. wine.

I encourage everyone to visit www.alberta.ca/KeepCanadaWorking to add your name to the list of Canadians calling on Premier John Horgan and the B.C. government to stop standing in the way of working people and action on climate.

We will continue to do what it takes to defend our interests. If B.C. tries to pull a stunt like this again, Premier Notley has made it clear that not only will the wine ban come back, so too will additional retaliatory measures.

I won’t be backing down in our fight to build Alberta’s energy infrastructure.