Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some Alberta Municipalities, Energy Firms Want More Provincial Processing

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Some Alberta Municipalities, Energy Firms Want More Provincial Processing

Article excerpt

Alberta energy firms want more local processing


EDMONTON - Alberta could create thousands of new jobs and take in an extra $600 million in annual revenue if more oil and natural gas were processed in the province instead of being shipped raw to other jurisdictions, says a newly released report.

The paper by a University of Calgary economist was commissioned by municipalities and energy companies in the Edmonton region known as Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association.

The association said it plans to lobby the Alberta government for new and expanded policies that would allow for more value-added processing of oilsands bitumen, natural gas liquids and raw natural gas.

"It would add $6 billion annually to Alberta's gross domestic product," Linda Osinchuk, the association's chairwoman, said Tuesday. "It is amazingly huge."

Companies that are members of the association include fertilizer giant Agrium (TSX:AGU), Enhance Energy, Nova Chemicals (TSX:NCX), Williams Energy and North West Redwater Partnership -- a joint venture bitumen refinery project that involves North West Upgrading Inc. (TSX:NWU) and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ).

The association said it supports Alberta's efforts to get better pipeline access to world markets, but suggests processing closer to home would help diversify the economy and help guard against the ups and downs of energy prices.

"By turning our raw materials into value-added products we can be less reliant on gaining access to outside markets," said Ian MacGregor, chairman of North West Upgrading.

"We still want and need to ship raw materials, but we can be creating products for local, regional and national markets."

The association estimates Alberta companies produce about $13.5 billion worth of chemicals and chemical products a year.

The report by economist Ron Schlenker looked at potential petrochemical and hydrocarbon processing investment in Alberta and analyzed how that would affect the economy. …

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