Made-in-Alberta plan attracts new jobs, investment

Premier Notley announces private investment in a new petrochemical upgrading facility alongside David Chappell (r), Patrick Bergen and Pyramid Prefab Piping staff.

If the plan is finalized, Inter Pipeline Ltd. would invest about $600 million in a new petrochemical upgrading facility that would produce more valuable consumer products derived from propane, including acrylic acid that is used in many everyday consumer products. This major private investment is unlocked by support from Premier Rachel Notley's Made-in-Alberta energy diversification strategy.

The project would build on the company's supply and knowledge of propylene, a product it already produces at the company’s other petrochemical facilities east of Edmonton. Construction would create about 600 jobs with another 50 long-term positions supporting the local economy once the facility is fully up and running.

“For decades, Albertans settled for less while new jobs and investment went south of the border. So we’re grabbing the bull by the horns, fighting for a Made-in-Alberta plan that represents the single largest energy diversification effort since the days of Peter Lougheed. We’re proud to support upgrading projects like Inter Pipeline’s because they mean more good jobs and top dollar for the energy resources that belong to all Albertans.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

Inter Pipeline’s supply of propylene, a gas that results from adding value to raw propane, creates the opportunity to further leverage Alberta’s natural resource strengths and extend the value chain. By producing acrylic acid used in things like adhesives, floor polishes and paints, this project increases the likelihood of attracting investments in more manufacturing facilities in the future.

“Alberta’s abundance of natural resources has positioned Inter Pipeline to invest in opportunities like this that build on our strengths to extend the value chain and make products that are in demand around the world. We want to commend this government for fostering the environment for companies like ours to grow and create jobs, while competitively positioning our business in the world market.”

David Chappell, senior vice-president, Petrochemical Development, Inter Pipeline Ltd.

The announcement was made at Pyramid Prefab Piping, one of the hundreds of companies across the province benefiting from the Made-in-Alberta strategy. As a manufacturer that employs about 45 people in Calgary, Pyramid was contracted to build key components for Inter Pipeline’s project already under construction.

“We're pleased to see the government’s vision for the future is focused on jobs and diversification, which will lead to more work for companies like ours to build the components needed for energy upgrading projects. This growth means we can put even more skilled tradespeople to work in the Calgary region and contribute even more to the oil and gas sector.”

Patrick Bergen, president, Pyramid Prefab Piping

If finalized by Inter Pipeline, the private investment would be unlocked by provincial support of up to $70 million in future royalty credits under the Petrochemicals Diversification Program, which was first developed in early 2016.

Quick facts

  • Inter Pipeline’s acrylic acid and propylene derivatives facility would be in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, northeast of Edmonton. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.
  • The facility would convert 60,000 tonnes per year of propylene and produce 80,000 tonnes per year of propylene derivatives, including acrylic acid, when operational.
  • Acrylic acid is a value-added product used to make coatings, adhesives, diapers, floor polishes and paints.
  • Roughly 50 skilled, local permanent jobs and 600 skilled trade construction jobs would be created.
  • Inter Pipeline has already been approved to receive up to $200 million in future royalty credits from the first round of the Petrochemicals Diversification Program for the construction its $3.5-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex.

Background

Made-in-Alberta energy strategy

  • Premier Notley’s government is investing $3 billion to support energy diversification that creates jobs and adds value to our resources here at home.
  • The focus is on two key areas: partial upgrading of our bitumen and petrochemical processing that adds value to natural gas and natural gas liquids.
  • Overall, this commitment is expected to attract more than $25 billion in private-sector investment to Alberta and create more than 20,000 jobs.

Petrochemical upgrading

  • Support for the Inter Pipeline facility is provided under the petrochemical portion of the Made-in-Alberta strategy.
  • Two projects – owned by the Canada-Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation and Inter Pipeline Ltd. – were selected under the first round of this program, which was announced in 2016. The projects combined for $8 billion in private investment, creating more than 5,000 jobs.
  • The government announced a second round of support for petrochemical upgrading in 2018.
    • Nauticol’s methanol facility was previously selected under the second round of this program. The entire project is a $2-billion private investment in a plant near Grande Prairie, creating roughly 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • Albertans and Canadians use dozens of products every day that are based in part on petrochemicals like those from Alberta’s growing value-added industry including:
    • polyester fabric couches, HD televisions, phones coffeemakers and computers
    • car tires, engine hoses, gas, oil, radio components and seats
    • desks, chairs, computers, carpets, cellphones and other office supplies

Partial upgrading of bitumen

  • $1 billion in grants and loan guarantees to encourage companies to invest in new or expanded bitumen-upgrading facilities.
  • Partial upgrading reduces the thickness of oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily, without having to be blended with diluent or as much diluent, a thinning agent. Benefits include:
    • increased prices for our resources before shipping
    • up to 30 per cent more capacity on existing pipelines
    • more world refineries capable of processing our product
    • cost savings on diluent for industry
    • fewer emissions by removing high carbon content

Energy diversification timeline

  • January 2016 – Royalty Review Advisory Panel recommended more value-add within the province, including partial upgrading
  • February 2016 – Petrochemicals Diversification Program (PDP) introduced
  • October 2016 – Energy Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC) formed
  • December 2016 – First PDP projects awarded
  • December 2017 – Inter Pipeline finalized investment in petrochemical project
  • February 2018 – EDAC reported back, including recommendation of partial upgrading, more PDP and additional support for petrochemical feedstock infrastructure
  • March 2018 – Government launched programs through the Energy Diversification Act
  • Fall 2018 – oil price differential hit crisis point. In response, government took several actions:
    • Temporary limit on oil production
    • Doubled support for PDP
    • Began crude-by-rail negotiations
    • Appointed LNG Investment Team
    • Request for industry interest in building refining capacity
  • January 2019 – Government announced letter of intent for first partial upgrading project awarded (Value Creation Inc.)
  • February 2019 – Canada-Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation  finalized investment in petrochemical project
  • February 2019 – Premier announced crude-by-rail agreements
  • February 2019 – Nauticol awarded first project under second round of PDP

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