Chemistry sector leads the way in supporting Alberta’s economic diversification

After a tough few years following the global downturn in oil prices, numerous economic indicators now predict that Alberta is set to have one of the fastest growing provincial economies in Canada in 2018.

At CIAC, we are very pleased with the recent measures the provincial government has taken to help push Alberta’s economic recovery along. Their commitment to investing in the chemistry sector serves as a model for the rest of Canada and the rest of the provinces should pay close attention.

Last February, Alberta’s Energy Diversification Advisory Committee (EDAC) released a report recommending new investments in resource value-added chemical manufacturing to help put Alberta on the map for investors. The goals were to increase the value of energy resources, create jobs and attract new investment to Alberta through economic diversification and responsible development.

Days after these recommendations were made, the provincial government quickly moved to table Bill 1, The Energy Diversification Act, launching the second round of the Petrochemicals Diversification Program (PDP) and establishing a Feedstock Infrastructure Initiative.

Shortly after on March 22, the province reiterated its strong commitment to the chemistry sector in its 2018 budget.

The $500-million investment by round two of the PDP and the $500 million Petrochemicals Feedstock Infrastructure Program investment will ensure that Alberta’s resources are manufactured into high-value products before being sold to global markets.

These recent efforts to diversify the energy economy have already resulted in nearly $10 billion in completed, initiated and proposed chemistry projects in Alberta. These new initiatives should lead to a further $10 billion or more in new investments.

The chemistry sector is already a key contributor to Alberta’s energy value-add strategy in which natural gas liquids, such as ethane, and natural gas itself (methane) are converted into high-value chemicals and fertilizers. This strategy has resulted in $16 billion in sales and $8 billion in exports in 2016. We know that the industry also creates high-value jobs with multiplier effects – each job in the chemistry industry results in another five in related sectors and services.

Internationally, by adding value to Canada’s low-carbon energy resources, the chemistry sector helps Canada take a leadership position in meeting global climate challenges. But to do this, we need to enable our chemistry industry to remain competitive to thrive. No where else in Canada are we seeing direct investment supporting the chemistry industry as we are in Alberta.

Alberta’s support will help the chemistry sector to take advantage of our low-carbon feedstock and create wealth and opportunity for Albertans in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. The rest of Canada should stand up and take notice.