The head of the Grande Prairie Petroleum Association says it may be a critical turning point for the oil and gas sector. This, after the federal government, for the second time, approved the Transmountain Pipeline Expansion project.

GPPA President Rob Petrone says the key to the deal in the eyes of the industry is simple, get the product to tidewater any way possible.

“To be able to compete on the open market is critical for Albertans and Canadians. Any step in the right direction of being able to access tidewaters with our product, I think, is critical for the country.”

The Transmountain Expansion Project, which was first approved by the federal government in November 2016, was then purchased by the government in 2018 for $4.5 billion. Now, for the second time, the government is pushing to get beyond the planning stage and into construction.

Petrone says so much of the money riding on a big ticket project like this goes not only into helping the companies but also the skilled workers.

“The revenue the companies make is re-invested in capital, and it’s that re-investment in capital that creates employment for people and really drives the economy.”

With some of the biggest current markets for Alberta oil and gas in the U.S east coast, Petrone says the ability to open up secondary markets in a much more cost-efficient way could reinvigorate the industry.

“Transportation costs out of Alberta here are the highest in North America. As you open up access, to say the west coast, all of a sudden now our competition is a lot closer to us and we don’t have near the expenses to get our product to market as we do today.”

The expansion project will essentially twin the existing Transmountain pipeline from Edmonton to the port city of Burnaby in British Columbia.