By Treena Mielke
Ray Prins’s trip to Alaska earlier this month was an opportunity for the Ponoka-Lacombe MLA to promote Alberta’s gas hub in anticipation of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline coming through the province.
He noted that the pipeline is probably eight to 10 years away, but believes there is a need to create awareness and be proactive in marketing the gas and natural gas in this province.
“I wanted to promote Alberta’s energy hub and how the Alaskans can tie into the eventuality of the Alaskan pipeline coming through here.”
He said the pipeline coming through Alberta would be a huge economic boon for the province.
“If the gas pipeline comes through here it will enhance our job market and our market for our petrochemical industries.
“It seems a long time away, but we need to start dealing with policy issues right now.”
Prins, who represented the Alberta government at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Arctic Caucus Leadership Forum in Barrow, Alaska Dec. 1 to 3, said the trip was extremely “beneficial.”
“It is always good to build on relationships and they are very interested in our competitiveness review that the government is undertaking in several sectors including the petro chemical industries.
While in Alaska, Prins emphasized the importance of Alberta as an exporter of crude oil to the United States.
“We are the largest exporters of crude oil into the U.S. of anywhere in the world and a lot of Americans don’t know that. But we export more oil into the U.S. from Alberta than they do from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined.
“I explained that to them in my talk that we are their most significant trading partner and we want to maintain that relationship and enhance it.”
Prins noted central Alberta is especially rich in petrochemicals.
“Nova Chemicals is the largest ethylene plant in North America and it’s not just Nova Chemicals, it’s Dow Chemicals, ME Global and Shell, some of the largest consumers of natural gas feedstocks in the world and they’re right in Central Alberta.
Prins said the natural gas that comes from Alaska is very rich in ethane, propane and butane.
“It is more rich than some of the gas around here, so if we can direct some of that gas from Alaska to our hub and our system here, we can direct that gas to the petrochemical plants at Joffre and Prentice and Fort Saskatchewan it will create thousands of jobs and billion of dollars worth of export products.
Prins sees talks with Alaskan industry leaders continuing in the future.
“Some of the people didn’t have a very clear understanding of our business here, but the ones that had an understanding were keen on building relationships and moving forward with further discussions.
“I believe that will happen over the years to come. The relationships we have with our American business partners is what we want to enhance.”