Provincial investment in oil and gas may be needed in changing investment climate, Kenney says

The Alberta government may set up a publicly traded corporation or agency to invest in oil and gas projects, similar to the Alberta Energy Company that helped kickstart the oilsands in the 1970s, Premier Jason Kenney says.

A growing number of international investors have been shying away from the oilsands, citing concerns about climate change. 

On Sunday, Vancouver-based Teck Resources withdrew its application for an oilsands project, citing concerns about the inability of federal and provincial governments to balance concerns about climate change with oil and gas development. 

At a news conference in Edmonton on Tuesday, Kenney said the time may have come for the government to finance such projects on its own.

The AEC, announced by former premier Peter Lougheed in 1973, joined with Syncrude to start oilsands development, Kenney said, at a time when it was difficult to access capital.

“It may be necessary again,” the premier said. “This province will not be shut down. We will not leave in the ground assets that represent ten trillion dollars of value on global markets. We will not be the only of the major energy producers in the world to choose poverty over prosperity.” 

The government has been working on what Kenney described as an “essential major project.” Details will be released soon, he said. 

He suggested shares in the new corporation could also be offered to the public.

“I think public participation is a great idea, and I think Albertans are smart, they’re patriotic, they understand that’s there’s great value in these resources,” he said. 

The Alberta legislature starts its spring session on Tuesday with a speech from the throne. The government will introduce the 2020-21 budget on Thursday.

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