The Partial Upgrading Program provides up to $1 billion in financial incentives to encourage companies to build 2 to 5 bitumen upgrading facilities, as part of our Made-in-Alberta plan to get more value from our resources.

Partial upgrading reduces the thickness of oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily, without having to be blended with as much diluent, a thinning agent. It’s cheaper to do than full upgrading because it requires less processing and costs less to build the facilities.

Benefits of partial upgrading include:

  • higher prices for our resources by increasing the value before shipping
  • allow more volume to be shipped through pipelines
  • more access to international markets
  • cost savings on diluent for industry
  • less emissions by removing high carbon content

Successful projects

The first successful project has been announced following a competitive application process held in 2018.

Value Creation Inc. (VCI)

The project will:

  • create more than 2,000 construction jobs now and 200 full-time jobs once operational in 2022
  • receive a $440 million loan guarantee to build and operate the first commercial-scale partial upgrader in the world using this technology, which will be located in the Industrial Heartland east of Edmonton
  • use state-of-the-art technology to upgrade heavy oil to produce a medium synthetic crude oil product and an ultra low sulfur diesel, a cleaner-burning transportation fuel used here at home and around the world
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 16% compared to current processes
  • generate nearly $6 billion in corporate and property tax over the next 30 years, benefiting Canadians

How it works

The Partial Upgrading Program will provide up to $200 million in grants and $800 million in loan guarantees to support projects that develop this emerging technology in Alberta.

This is one of three Energy Diversification Programs to help add value to the resources owned by all Albertans. The other two programs are:

Application process

The call for applications closed on September 4, 2018. Approved projects will be announced as they’re selected.

  • Applications are reviewed with a third-party monitor to ensure a fair and transparent evaluation process.
  • Applications that passed the initial screening criteria are evaluated against a set of 8 major criteria and ranked by performance.
  • The top ranked projects are then engaged in negotiations to be considered for approval under the program.


Email: energy.edprograms@gov.ab.ca