Letter: Sturgeon Refinery builds on Alberta’s greatest strength

As Canada’s largest hydrocarbon processing region, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is watching with interest and anticipation as construction of phase 1 of the Sturgeon Refinery nears completion.

Our province’s energy sector is undoubtedly our biggest strength, and value added energy development is the muscle behind that strength. Over many decades, Alberta has fostered innovative technology, leading expertise, environmental firsts, and pioneering processes to optimize the value of our natural resources. The new, world-class Sturgeon Refinery in Alberta’s backyard is an ideal example of all of this within one single project.
Recent media stories have discussed the value of this project and its benefit for communities, government, and the future of our province. Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association believes the Sturgeon Refinery, the first to be built in Canada in three decades, will bring significant value and long-term economic benefits to Alberta and Canada.

According to a recent Conference Board of Canada report, the construction of phase 1 will increase GDP by nearly $8 billion, generate $2 billion in government revenues, and generate 76,000 person years of employment. During operations, phase 1 will increase GDP by $2.3 billion per year on average, create 6,658 person years of employment, and generate a total of $385 million in tax revenue on a yearly basis.

And that’s just phase 1. With two additional planned phases that would triple the capacity of the refinery, this project provides a tremendous opportunity for continued growth in Alberta and throughout Canada.
The Sturgeon Refinery is an extension of the value chain for Alberta’s natural resources. It will process energy resources to create higher value products – diesel is worth twice the value of bitumen. And it is creating a product that can be shipped to multiple markets, reducing dependency on export of bitumen to essentially one customer, the United States.

Support for this project from a broad range individuals and groups has helped turn idea for bitumen refining into an impressive landscape that’s 96% complete and nearly ready to start producing ultra low sulphur diesel and other higher value products. Our municipal partners, business groups and Chambers, and local communities understand why this project is needed and how it fits within the vision for long-term prosperity.

Additionally, the Government of Alberta’s Bitumen-Royalty-in-Kind program displays their commitment to being a responsible owner of world-scale and world-class energy resources.

As commissioning and start-up occurs over the next 6 months, we will remain a steadfast supporter and advocate for this project and energy resource value adding within Alberta. Taxes, employment, and GDP are the obvious and quantifiable reasons. Perhaps most importantly, this project and value added resource development continues to build on Alberta’s invaluable strength of our energy sector.


Ed Gibbons Chair, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association

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