​Alberta election: Where the parties stand on oil and gas value-added

UCP leader Jason Kenney, Alberta Liberal leader David Khan, NDP leader Rachel Notley and Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel at the leaders' debate on April 4. Image: Jason Kenney/Twitter

A centrepiece of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s time in office has been efforts to incentivize oil and gas projects that add value to the province’s raw fossil fuel resources.

Since 2016 the NDP government has made $3.6 billion available to support petrochemical projects, petrochemical feedstock infrastructure projects and bitumen partial upgrading projects.

Of that funding, the province has awarded $1.09 billion in royalty credits and loan guarantees to four petrochemical projects and one bitumen partial upgrader. Two of the projects are currently under construction: Inter Pipeline’s $3.5-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex and Canada Kuwait Petrochemical/Pembina Pipeline’s $4.5-billion propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene facility.

Notley says that if re-elected her government will “work with industry to deliver a major expansion of refining, upgrading and petrochemical production capacity, targeting $75 billion in new private investment.”

Here’s what the other parties have to say about the value-added strategy, and what they would do in office.

Jason Kenney | United Conservative Party

Jason Kenney’s UCP platform supports energy diversification, primarily through petrochemicals. It does not specifically mention bitumen upgrading or refining.

“Alberta has an opportunity to attract major private sector capital investment to leverage our inexpensive feedstock into petrochemical diversification and upgrading,” the party platform says. “We will respect agreements made by the current government under the Petrochemical Diversification Program (PDP) and will be open to extending the PDP royalty tax credit model to incentivize future projects.”

The UCP also says that funds paid through its Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction regime, which would replace the NDP’s Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation, would “be used for new and cleaner Alberta-based technologies that reduce carbon emissions even further, including new and improved oilsands extraction technology and supporting research and investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage.”

Kenney would also cancel the NDP’s $3.7-billion plan to lease crude by rail cars to move approximately 120,000 bbls/d out of Alberta.

Stephen Mandel | Alberta Party

The Alberta Party says it will “energize the development of refining and petrochemical processing.”

This is focused on supporting:

  • The development of CN’s CanaPux technology, which converts bitumen into a solid puck product that is capable of being exported by rail or other methods, rather than pipeline;
  • Funding the second and third phases of the Sturgeon Refinery “once Phase 1 is proven out”;
  • Creating a gas royalty in kind program to incentivize petrochemical projects, similar to the bitumen royalty in kind program that is currently used to support the Sturgeon Refinery; and
  • Increasing the budget for Alberta Innovates, which “funds research that focuses on turning bitumen into products other than gas, diesel and other fuels such as asphalt, vanadium batteries, plastics and carbon fibre.”
David Khan | Alberta Liberals

The Alberta Liberal Party’s ‘platform preview’ says it would “put an end to government boondoggles and interference in the market.”

“Alberta has wasted billions over the years on interventionist boondoggles. If more refineries are economically feasible in Alberta, let’s let markets decide. We will establish an independent panel of experts to review and make recommendations on any proposed future taxpayer-financed, value-added investment in the energy sector,” it says.

“Governments should only intervene in the market when there is a major failure.”

Khan would also cancel the NDP’s crude by rail plan.