Group urges Alberta to upgrade more of its oil within the province

17 April 2013 15:29  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--A newly-formed pressure group is urging Canada’s Alberta province to upgrade and refine more of its oil sands within the province, instead of just exporting unprocessed crude oil to the US, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Alberta Plus - which includes petrochemical producers NOVA Chemicals and Williams, as well as fertilizer major Agrium - said that by turning more of its energy resources into higher-value chemicals and other products, the province would become less dependent on outside markets.

Citing a study commissioned from the University of Calgary, Alberta Plus said that by adding more value to its resources, Alberta could increase its gross domestic product by Canadian dollar (C$) 6.0bn/year ($5.8bn/year) and create 18,000 new jobs.

David Chappell, president of the Canadian arm of US energy and petrochemicals firm Williams said that the Alberta Plus initiative aims to help strengthen the province’s roles as a petrochemicals production hub.

“Our experience has shown us the value of further processing Alberta’s energy resources,” Chappel said.

“This is why we are adding to our present $1.7bn investment in Alberta by recently announcing our plans to build a $900m propane dehydrogenation facility,” he added.

In related news, a British Columbia entrepreneur recently proposed a new world-scale export refinery project to be built on that province’s west coast, and energy infrastructure firms have put forward plans for pipeline projects to ship oil from western Canada to markets in Quebec and other eastern provinces.

The moves come as western Canadian oil continues to trade at steep discounts to West Texas Intermediate (WTI), mainly because of inadequate pipeline export capacity.

Canadian oil relies on US Midwest refineries as its main export market. The long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, which would enable Canadian oil to reach US Gulf Coast refineries, has yet to be approved by the US.

Canadian labour unions, as well as chemical industry leaders, have over past years often called for more value-added production within Canada.

($1 = C$1.03)

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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