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Alberta government restarts petrochemical investment incentive program

Alberta's government restarted a C$1.1 billion fund to boost petrochemical investments in the province after the program had been dormant during a government transition.

The plan offers royalty credits to the backers of "privately funded large-scale projects" that turn NGLs into plastics and fertilizers, according to an Oct. 23 statement.

Alberta will not continue with an incentive for partial upgrading of tar-like bitumen produced in the oil sands region and a petrochemical feedstock infrastructure program. Those programs relied on grants and loan guarantees that posed a higher financial risk to the province, the statement said.

The Petrochemicals Diversification Program was conceived by the New Democratic Party government, which was ousted by the United Conservative Party in April. The government halted disbursements under the second round of the program as part of a review of its spending.

About C$150 million had been approved under the program after its announcement in late 2018. Alberta provides incentives for the projects through royalty credits on natural gas. The province is the owner of most of the natural gas produced within its boundaries and receives royalties when it is produced.

A previous funding round of C$1 billion yielded a number of project proposals, including a C$3.5 billion facility being built near Edmonton, Alberta, by Inter Pipeline Ltd. The program was introduced to increase value-added processing of liquids-rich natural gas from shale formations that straddle the Alberta-British Columbia border. The royalty credits are meant to counter incentives provided in other large gas-producing jurisdictions such as Pennsylvania and Texas.

The government had announced only one project under the partial upgrading program, a loan guarantee of C$440 million to closely held Value Creation Inc. The province did not say if it would continue to participate in the project, which was announced in January.