UCP government to continue with NDP’s petrochemical credit program, cancel two others

The United Conservative government in Alberta says it will continue with a program introduced by the former NDP regime to use $1.1 billion in natural gas royalty credits to encourage new petrochemical projects.

But Energy Minister Sonya Savage says it will cancel two other NDP programs offering loan guarantees and grants – one worth $500 million to back petrochemical feedstock infrastructure projects and the other, worth $1 billion, to encourage more partial upgrading of crude by oil developers in Alberta.

The province says it will also cancel an NDP call for proposals for refinery projects, which would have included potential government support.

Dale Nally, associate minister of natural gas, says about $150 million in credits of $1.1 billion available under the second round of the petrochemical program announced last year have already been awarded.

He says the government is in the process of going through applications to allocate the rest but has not yet set a timeline.

The first round of the NDP’s petrochemical program resulted in $200 million in credits for Inter Pipeline Ltd. and $300 million for Pembina Pipeline Ltd., both of which are building multi-billion dollar projects in central Alberta to turn propane into polypropylene plastic.

“This (credits) program has demonstrated success in developing projects in a financially responsible way with private industry taking the lead,” said Savage on a conference call.

She said the previous government’s petrochemical feedstock infrastructure and partial upgrading programs relied on grants and loan guarantees and therefore carried a higher financial risk.