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Investment in Alberta's Heartland could soar to $70 billion by 2030

Industry giants, municipalities gather in Edmonton for stakeholder conference

If activity seen in the last year keeps up, Alberta's Industrial Heartland could almost double the value of investments seen so far, with $30 billion in new capital investments by 2030.

Mark Plamondon, executive director with Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association (AIHA), presented an update at the Alberta Industrial Heartland 2020 annual stakeholder conference on Jan. 30 at the Edmonton Convention Centre.

"We believe by 2030, an additional $30 million of investments is a very reasonable and achievable goal," he said. "Of course, it can not be done without those companies having confidence in the region."

The conference was sold out with 1,100 attendees this year, including major industry stakeholders and municipal partners from across Alberta, Canada and around the world. Speakers included petroleum transportation company Inter Pipeline, oil and gas operator Keyera, chemical manufacturing company Dow Canada and pipeline transport company Pembina.

Alanna Hnatiw, AIHA chair and mayor of Sturgeon County, celebrated the notable increase in the crowd's size since the conference first started 21 years ago. At that time, it was held in Fort Saskatchewan and attracted around 70 people, she said.

"This is a testament to the fact that energy decision-makers see value in the future of Alberta's Industrial Heartland, a value that is built on low-cost and abundant feedstocks, as well as a well-educated energy workforce, and world class infrastructure," Hnatiw said.

READ MORE: Alberta Industrial Heartland Association looks at advocacy 

Over the past several decades, Alberta's Industrial Heartland has grown into Canada's largest hydrocarbon processing region, spanning 582 square kilometres northeast of Edmonton. More than 40 companies are operating within the region, several being world-scale producers of fuels, fertilizers, power, petrochemicals and more.

There is currently $40 billion worth of investment in the area, and companies that are operating there have generated over 6,000 direct jobs and more than 25,000 indirect jobs, Plamondon said.

A petrochemical investment window is open for North America, and Alberta and Canada can be the location of choice for billions of dollars of investment in the near future, according to the AIHA.

"This is an exciting time for the Industrial Park," Hnatiw said.

Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation (CKPC) announced in early 2019 a $4 billion positive financial investment decision with Pembina for its integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in Sturgeon County, which would convert liquid propane into solid polypropylene pellets.

Wolf Midstreams is continuing the construction of its $500 million Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, which would transport carbon dioxide from the Industrial Heartland to central Alberta for oil recovery projects. Initial flow rates were originally expected to start late 2019.

Inter Pipeline's $3.5 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to wrap up construction by late 2021 in Strathcona County. It will be designed to convert propane into 525,000 tonnes of polypropylene per year, a high value plastic used to make a variety of different products including cling-film and sandwich bags.

The ramp-up of the Sturgeon Refinery's next two phases is ongoing, with full start-up of operations expected in early 2020. Project construction is complete, and diesel began flowing in December 2017.

READ MORE: Sturgeon refinery project stalled

Patrick Tighe, Sturgeon County councillor, said taking advantage of opportunities for the municipality and industrial players to collaborate together opens up significant potential for future development.

"Sturgeon County has a large, vested undeveloped area in it, and we have a couple of great new prominent players," Tighe said, noting the Sturgeon Refinery expansion and the CKPC/Pembina joint-venture.

The event featured former prime minister Stephen Harper as a keynote speaker, but media were not allowed to be in the room during his presentation.

See a full wrap-up of the AIHA 2020 stakeholder conference in our Feb. 5 edition.

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