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Province teaming up with Calgary company for a $2 Billion dollar upgrading facility near Edmonton


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From the Province of Alberta

Made-in-Alberta plan moves $2-billion investment forward

Premier Rachel Notley’s Made-in-Alberta energy strategy is taking a major step forward in diversifying the economy, creating new jobs and adding more value to our resources.

Calgary-based Value Creation Inc. (VCI) and its wholly owned subsidiary Value Chain Solutions Inc. are on track to invest $2 billion in an upgrading facility in the Alberta Industrial Heartland, just east of Edmonton, which will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and another 200 full-time positions once the facility is up and running.

This is just the first of several new projects made possible through the Made-in-Alberta strategy to do more upgrading and refining of the province’s oil and gas resources here at home.

“We’re taking the bull by the horns and fighting to get full value for our oil. Albertans have been talking about this for decades, and we’re not content to sit on the sidelines and let good jobs and investment pass Alberta by for places like Louisiana. That has happened for too long and it has got to stop. We’re making sure the next generation of Albertans have the opportunities they deserve in a stronger, more resilient, more diversified province.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

VCI’s leading-edge facility will upgrade diluted oil sands bitumen into a higher-value crude blend that can flow easier through pipelines. This provides significant cost savings to industry because it would reduce the need for diluent, while increasing pipeline capacity by up to 30 per cent, and providing access to more refineries around the world that cannot currently accept Alberta’s oil sands bitumen.

The partial upgrading technology is expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 16 per cent per barrel compared to current processes used to extract bitumen.

“We here at Value Creation Inc. and Value Chain Solutions Inc. look forward to building upon Premier Rachel Notley’s vision of diversifying our energy markets and maximizing the value of the resources owned by Albertans. Our project is going to create good, long-term jobs with game-changing technology for low-cost upgrading and strong environmental performance.”

Columba Yeung, chairman and CEO, Value Creation Inc. and Value Chain Solutions Inc.

Through a letter of intent, the province has agreed to support the project through a $440-million loan guarantee, subject to reaching a final agreement. In all, Alberta is providing more than $3 billion in support for crude oil and bitumen partial upgrading and petrochemical upgrading, which turns Alberta natural gas into higher-value products like plastics.

“This government’s Made-in-Alberta upgrading program is a crucial element to ensuring these value-add investments happen in Alberta. Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is a key economic driver of the province’s economy, with potential for $30 billion in new investment by 2030. Upgrading more of our resources here at home means more jobs and more investment in our local communities, with new value chains that will help diversify our economy for generations to come.”

Mark Plamondon, executive director, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association

Construction of the Strathcona County-based project is already underway, with some foundational infrastructure in place and design work nearly completed. The plant is expected to be operational in 2022. Once completed, this would be the first commercial-scale partial upgrader in the world using this new technology, which VCI has been developing over several years.

VCI’s facility is just the first of others to be announced under Premier Notley’s Made-in-Alberta strategy, which is focused on creating jobs, adding value to our energy resources and exporting our products to new markets. This plan is at the heart of diversifying Alberta’s energy sector and making sure we get full value for the resources owned by all Albertans.

VCI project background

  • The first phase of the Value Chain Solutions – Heartland Complex (VCS-H) will use 77,500 barrels-per-day (bpd) of diluted bitumen to produce a medium synthetic crude oil and an ultra low sulfur diesel, which is a cleaner-burning transportation fuel used here at home and around the world.
  • Founded in 1999 and based in Calgary, Value Creation Inc. has nearly 1,200 square kilometres of oil sands land holdings in Alberta.
  • The company has developed a plan to engage with Indigenous communities across the region for employment, contracting and long-term alliance opportunities.
  • VCI’s technology is expected to help reduce GHG emissions by up to 16 per cent compared to current processes. This is the equivalent to cutting 620,000 tonnes of harmful emissions per year, or removing 135,000 cars from the road.
  • The project is expected to generate roughly $2.5 billion in revenue to the province over the 30-year life of the project.
  • Strathcona County is expected to receive about $280 million in municipal tax revenue over the life of the project.

Made-in-Alberta energy strategy

Partial upgrading of bitumen

  • $1 billion in grants and loan guarantees to encourage companies to build bitumen upgrading facilities to:
    • increase the value of our energy resources before shipping
    • allow more volume to be shipped through pipelines
  • 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:
    • higher prices for our resources
    • more access to international markets
    • cost savings on diluent for industry
    • fewer emissions by removing high carbon content
  • Partial upgrading is cheaper to do than full upgrading because it requires less processing.
  • In 2016, oil sands companies in Alberta purchased $13.3 billion worth of diluent, much of it imported.
  • Bitumen that goes to market without upgrading or refining has historically been sold at lower prices compared to other crude oils.
    • Partial upgrading could help reduce this discount by improving the quality of the product and increasing the number of refineries capable of processing it.

Petrochemical upgrading

  • Total support will now reach $2.1 billion to unlock about $20 billion in private-sector investment.
  • This would help create as many as 15,500 jobs during construction of multiple petrochemical facilities across the province.
  • Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex is already under construction as a result of this program:
    • $3.5 billion private investment
    • 2,300 construction jobs, 180 operational jobs
    • The complex processes propane into plastic pellets called polypropylene, which is used around the world making kids’ toys, electronics and automotive parts.


After prior rejections, Alberta announces sandhill crane hunt for this fall

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EDMONTON — Alberta has announced there will be a sandhill crane hunting season this fall — a hunt that’s been opposed by an environmental group and was previously rejected by the provincial government three times.

The province said in a news release on Sunday that the season launches on September 1 in more than 50 wildlife management units in southern and east-central Alberta.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon says in the release that it “will support the province’s wildlife management goals and boost local economies.”

Alberta Conservation Association president Todd Zimmerling says in the same release that the birds make “excellent table fare” and that they’ve been hunted for many years across the rest of their range.

But Nissa Pettersen of the Alberta Wilderness Association said earlier this year, when the minister told a magazine he’d asked his department consider a hunt, that despite their healthy numbers, the birds reproduce slowly and are rapidly losing the wetlands where they live.

Alberta decided against sandhill crane hunts in 2009, 2013 and 2014.

“Alberta hunters care deeply about the province’s environment, species and wild places, and providing another opportunity to engage in a pursuit that supports conservation as well as economic activity is a win-win,” Nixon said in the release.

The province said sandhill crane hunting seasons have existed in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba for more than 50 years, with the sandhill crane population remaining healthy.

It said the number of sandhill cranes in the Alberta has increased steadily in recent years, adding that the hunt is supported by Alberta hunting stakeholders, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Central Flyway Council.

There are more than 600,000 sandhill cranes across North America.

But Pettersen said in April that because the cranes depend on wetlands that are disappearing, and also have a low birth rate, that they might not bounce back from a year of hunting. 

The Alberta Wilderness Association also said that a hunt would threaten the endangered whooping crane, which uses some of the same migration routes and could be mistaken for either bird.

The Canadian Wildlife Service proposed in December that the province open a fall sandhill season, saying it would provide a new hunting opportunity in Alberta and provide a mechanism to deal with crop depredation issues caused by cranes.

Pettersen discounted concerns about the birds eating crops in the field, noting that when that argument was made during the last debate over hunting, the total of actual complaints against the birds was five.

The province says hunters will need a provincial game bird licence and a federal migratory bird licence to hunt sandhill cranes. It says the Alberta hunt is expected to add only two per cent to the number of sandhill cranes harvested across North America.

The provincial release says fishing, hunting, trapping, and sport-shooting activities contributed $1.8 billion to Alberta’s GDP in 2018, supporting 11,700 jobs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

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SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented a curfew as its health workers monitor more than 200 people for signs they may have developed COVID-19.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in video messages posted on Facebook that as of Thursday there were 21 known COVID-19 positive cases with links to the community west of Calgary, and that five separate and unrelated case clusters had been uncovered in the previous 12 days.

Crowfoot said that as of Wednesday, 258 Siksika Nation members were under “active investigation and daily followup” by the community’s health services team — a number he said had quadrupled in only three days.

On Friday, councillors approved a temporary curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with exceptions that Crowfoot said can be made on an as-needed basis for work or other reasons.

Crowfoot encouraged Siksika Nation members to co-operate with health officials if they call, and to avoid non-essential travel to nearby cities. 

He said the risk of community transmission is high and that each new case cluster makes it even harder to contact trace and isolate people fast enough.

“We realize you have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of consequence. If we choose not to follow these guidelines, the consequence may be that we contract the virus and spread the virus further through our community,” Crowfoot warned in a video message posted Thursday.

In a message posted Friday, Crowfoot said his community had met meeting with federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Alberta Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson to address shortfalls in resources for dealing with the pandemic.

Crowfoot said the community’s annual Sun Dance ceremony was continuing, but that each participant was being tested prior to entering and that health workers were screening people as they came and went.

“It is understandable that people may feel anxious regarding this current situation, but if we continue to stay vigilant to the public health measures and do our best to limit travel and to avoid gatherings we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” Crowfoot said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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july, 2020

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