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Grande Prairie likely to play role in Alberta’s energy diversification

Alberta’s Energy Minister has tabled a bill aimed at further diversifying the province’s energy sector. Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley MLA Marg McCuaig-Boyd says Bill 1 continues former premier Peter Lougheed’s work to diversify the energy industry.

“The Energy Diversification Act builds on Alberta’s traditional strengths. It moves us from the boom and bust policies of the past without sacrificing our leadership in oil and gas.”

The legislation stems from recommendations made by the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee, which has been working since the fall of 2016 to find ways for the industry to find success long-term. The recommendations include creating new energy clusters in Grande Prairie, Joffre and Medicine Hat.

“Grande Prairie and area is so blessed because we sit on two of the most important plays – the Montney and Duvernay – and the world is looking at this area now and wanting to invest,” McCuaig-Boyd says. “We need to be ready and look at how we can use the strengths of the north to do that.”

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A second phase of applications for petrochemical projects is also in the works, which could involve the proposed industrial park south of Grande Prairie.

McCuaig-Boyd explains the province also wants to see investments in facilities that use partial upgrading technology. It reduces the thickness of bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily.

“By being able to take diluent out of shipments of bitumen, we could move about 30 per cent more oil through our existing pipelines and we can access refineries that right now cannot take out bitumen. This means lower costs and greater value, and ultimately a better return for the people here in Alberta.”

The Feedstock Infrastructure Program is also considered a critical part of the diversification plan. McCuaig-Boyd says it would encourage industry to invest in facilities that separate natural gas liquids from natural gas.

“Ethane, in particular, is something that’s not being recovered here in Alberta. By extracting more of that, we go a long way in supporting construction of the manufacturing plants that are known as ethane crackers.”

More specific plans are expected to be released soon.

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