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    Alberta Unveils Natural Gas Strategy & Vision


Premier says government needs to "get out of the way"

by: Dale Lunan

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Alberta Unveils Natural Gas Strategy & Vision

The government of Alberta on October 6 rolled out a new natural gas strategy and vision, a year in the making, that targets five areas of “huge” growth potential for the province’s gas industry.

The strategy – one of the recommendations of a natural gas advisory panel established in 2018 to provide advice on how to improve the lot of the province’s natural gas industry – is now part of Alberta’s Covid-19 recovery plan and is intended to take advantage of emerging opportunities for hydrogen, petrochemical manufacturing, liquefied natural gas and plastics recycling.

“We will meet growing global demands for clean and sustainable energy by building on Alberta’s success in natural gas,” premier Jason Kenney said in announcing the strategy. “Alberta is ready to lead in safe, clean and reliable energy today and into the future.”

The announcement was held at a facility run by gas distributor Atco, which is preparing to launch a program that would introduce hydrogen to part of its system in the community of Fort Saskatchewan. And hydrogen, Atco CEO Nancy Southern said, forms a key strength of the natural gas strategy.

“Alberta’s natural resource industry is the greatest economic engine of this country, although the national prosperity it creates is often discounted,” she said. “The extraction of hydrogen from natural gas is yet one more example of our collective commitment to being the world leader in emissions reductions.”

The strategy sets out five goals the government is targeting that would raise the profile of the province’s gas industry. These include exporting hydrogen across Canada and around the world by 2040; Alberta becoming among a global top 10 producer of natural gas-based petrochemicals; ensuring Alberta’s gas producers have access to Asian and European markets through two or three large-scale LNG export facilities by 2030; creating a circular plastics economy that establishes Alberta as the western North America centre of excellence in plastics recycling by 2030, and; increasing the demand for Alberta natural gas by increasing investments in gas processing infrastructure.

On the petrochemical side, the province earlier this year announced the Alberta Petrochemical Incentives Program to incent additional petrochemical investment in Alberta. That program - details of which will be released in the coming weeks - is now also part of the province's gas strategy and vision.

“Most of what we are talking about doesn’t have to cost governments or taxpayers a dime,” Kenney said. “It really is just a matter of government getting out of the way, reducing red tape, streamlining the regulatory process and letting industry get on with the job.”