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UCP government to use grants to attract petrochemical investments to Alberta

UCP government to use grants to attract petrochemical investments to Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: The UCP government has introduced a new incentive program it believes will attract billions of dollars worth of investment in the petrochemical sector, employing tens of thousands of Albertans. Tom Vernon reports.

The UCP government has introduced a new incentive program it believes will attract billions of dollars worth of investment in the petrochemical sector, employing tens of thousands of Albertans.

The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program will offer direct grants to companies that decide to invest in Alberta. Companies will qualify if their facilities are up and running by 2030.

“The sky is the limit for the benefits this industry can provide to Alberta,” Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally said while announcing the program.

“Beginning now, we’re going to set our sights much higher.”

The new program won’t be a competition. All projects that meet requirements set out by the province will be eligible to receive funding. Those details are still being worked out, and it’s not known how much money the government will end up paying out.

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“From our perspective, if we’re getting return on investment that we need, and we’re getting billions of dollars of infrastructure development happening — and of course resource revenues for Albertans — then we’re not going to put a hard stop on it,” Nally said.

READ MORE: Canadian petrochemical growth spurt expected despite rising desire for fewer plastics 

That answer isn’t good enough for NDP Leader Rachel Notley, who believes an announcement without details can’t be considered a clear plan.

“This minister had almost nothing to do for the last 15 months, and to bring forward an announcement like this, with so little information, I ask the question, what has he been doing?”

While in government, the NDP brought forward a number of petrochemical diversification programs itself, including one that uses royalty credits to attract investment. The second phase of that program is still ongoing.

The industry itself believes this new program will be successful, and could attract $30-billion worth of investment over the next decade.

“Our members are looking at tens of billions of dollars of projects right now,” said David Chappell, the board chair of the Resource Diversification Council. He is also a senior vice-president with Inter Pipeline.

“As companies spend tens and hundreds of millions of dollars on projects, before they decide whether they go ahead or not, they can count on this in their economics.”

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According to the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, the chemicals sector in Alberta is already worth more than $12 billion, and directly or indirectly employs more than 58,000 people.