Energy Processing in Alberta


Energy processing increases the value of raw resources.

To encourage the development of more oil and gas processing in Alberta and to help diversify Alberta’s energy sector, three programs were created under the Energy Diversification Actexternal link iconof 2018.  

Petrochemicals Diversification Program (link to round 1 and information on round 2)

Petrochemical Feedstock Infrastructure Program

Alberta has a rich supply of natural gas and natural gas liquids in geological formations across the province. When these resources are produced, they can be used as feedstocks for processing into petrochemicals and further into value-added products such as plastics, fabrics, and fertilizers.
To encourage the extraction and development of more of these valuable feedstocks, the Petrochemical Feedstock Infrastructure Program was created. The program provides financial incentives to encourage companies to build the facilities that will extract feedstocks from natural gas and natural gas liquids.
Increasing Alberta’s supply of feedstocks is necessary for industry to construct and operate new world-class petrochemical processing facilities in our province.
This initiative would :

  • Supply feedstocks to enable a growing petrochemical industry;
  • Add value to Alberta’s energy resources; and
  • Expand Alberta’s market reach by processing our natural gas resources into products that can be sold internationally.

Partial Upgrading Program

Partial upgrading is a process that reduces the thickness of oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily, without having to be blended with diluent. This increases the amount of bitumen product that can be shipped on pipelines because less diluent is needed. Partial upgrading would also allow more refineries world-wide to process Alberta’s bitumen product and would not limit future opportunities for full refining within Alberta.

The government recognizes that industry’s ability to invest in partial upgrading is limited and financial support is necessary for these types of projects to proceed for the larger benefit to all Albertans. Through this program, financial incentives will be available to accelerate the commercial build out of partial upgrading projects in Alberta. This may be accomplished by adapting existing commercial upgrading technologies and/or the commercialization of new and novel technologies to:

  • diversify the products created from bitumen;
  • reduce or eliminate the requirement for diluent;
  • add value to Alberta’s bitumen resources;
  • increase market access for Alberta’s bitumen resources;
  • reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to bitumen resources; and
  • increase investment and job creation within the province

These initiatives build upon Alberta’s energy strengths to create thousands of jobs, attract billions of dollars in private investment and secure Alberta’s energy future through diversification and innovation.

Fostering energy diversification and increased investment in energy processing were key recommendations from the Energy Diversification Advisory Committeeexternal link icon, which delivered its final report to government in March 2018.

 Related resources;

  • Oil sands upgrading can be found in Oil Sands 101

  • Refining and Petrochemicals explains some uses of petrochemicals.

  • Refining, petrochemicals and biochemical external link icon (Alberta Canada)

  • The  Incremental Ethane Extraction Program (IEEP) began in 2006 a program to reduce green house gas emissions by extracting ethane from the off-gases that result from the processes, see energy history for more information.  

  • Examining the expansion of the petrochemical industry in CanadaPDF iconexternal link icon(2015) Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) report. 

  • The Hydrocarbon Upgrading Task Force (HUTF) and related reports 2004- 2009
    The industry/government Task Force was established to explore synergies of other competitive opportunities with the refining and petrochemical industries.

  • Alberta Polypropylene Market StudyPDF icon(2004) Williams Energy, Alberta Industrial Heartland Association and the Government of Alberta to study the economic feasibility of producing polypropylene in Alberta.  This study identifies probable markets for Alberta-produced polypropylene and market suppliers that would compete with the Alberta-produced polypropylene.

  • Alberta Polystyrene Production OptionsPDF icon(2000) the government of Alberta commissioned Harry Blair Consultants to examine the economic potential of producing polystyrene (PS) in Alberta. An economic model was developed to evaluate the profitability of constructing and operating a crystal/impact PS plant in Alberta, using local styrene monomer as feedstock, and shipping the product locally or exporting to North America and Asia, results were positive.

  • Alberta Propylene Upgrade ProspectsPDF icon(2000) the government of Alberta commissioned T. J. McCann and Associates to identify propylene derivatives as prospects for investment in Alberta. The report discusses a number of  derivatives that could be produced in Alberta, but three, polypropylene, acrylonitrile and acrylic acid stood out as having superior potential.

  • Final Report of the Ethane and NGLs Task Force(1999) this report was submitted to Honourable Minister Steve West, by MLAs Rob Lougheed and Victor Doerksen on results of the Task Force review of Alberta's ethane and natural gas liquids (NGLs) policy framework.