Premier Jason Kenney is suggesting the provincial government may financially back an oil and gas project.
In a Tuesday speech to the Edmonton Business Association luncheon — days after Teck Resources withdrew its application to build the $20-billion Frontier oilsands mine — Kenney said “uncertainty” on federal regulations is to blame for some energy projects pulling out of Alberta.
“I’m here to tell you today, as the premier of this province, that we are prepared to do what is necessary to ensure a future for this province’s economy, including for women and men, Indigenous people and new Canadians, and everyone who depends upon, either directly or indirectly, our energy industry,” said the premier. “I just say, stay tuned on that. I’ll give you a hint.”
Kenney then spoke about how former premier Peter Lougheed created the Alberta Energy Corporation (AEC) in the 1970s. That entity financed Syncrude Canada Ltd.
“A lack of access to capital was met by bold leadership and public participation — Albertans bought shares. It wasn’t just a government-owned enterprise, it was a publicly-owned enterprise,” he said. “As we see decisions like that, as we see delays and frankly hostile policy-setting from Ottawa, we will not surrender, we will not be passive, we will do what is necessary.”
Kenney made similar comments at a news conference at the provincial legislature Tuesday morning.
“There is a significant project that we have been working on some time, that I alluded to yesterday, where we are looking at a financial role for a central, major project … in the weeks to come,” he said.
“We offered principle to extend a backstop from the Indigenous Opportunities Corporation in the quantity of several hundred million dollars. That would have been a risk taken by the government of Alberta to facilitate First Nations’ co-ownership, an equity role in the project, to help us get to a yes on it.”
He again pointed to the AEC, which had a major role in initially developing the oilsands.
“At a time when we could not get adequate access to capital to develop the third-largest oil reserves on Earth, the government of Alberta played a critical role, until it was no longer necessary,” he said. “Well, it may be necessary again … one of the possible approaches would be to re-create an agency or corporation similar to the AEC in the 1970s.”
Last year, the province created the Crown Corporation, the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, to fund natural resources projects.
— With files from Shaughn Butts and Lisa Johnson