Introduction of guests – April 30, 2018

The Speaker: Welcome.
The hon. Member for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater.

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m pleased to introduce to you and through you to all members of the Assembly guests who are here today from the Alberta Common Ground Alliance, including representatives from Alberta One-Call, ATCO Gas, the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops, the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Telus communications, Alberta Roadbuilders & Heavy Construction Association, and the Alberta Public Works Association.

    April is national dig safe awareness month. The Alberta Common Ground Alliance is reminding all Albertans to visit before any digging project, no matter how big or how small. I will speak more on this later today. Now I’d like to ask my guests to rise and receive the traditional warm welcome of the Assembly.

Member’s statement – Dig Safe Month – April 30, 2018

  Click before you dig!


Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Every year thousands of buried facilities are accidentally damaged by digging activities. Services are interrupted in nearly every case, and incidents put our workers, our communities, and our environment at risk. Recently a number of communities have been impacted by incidents involving severed underground lines. In my own constituency the town of Athabasca lost nearly all telecommunications services for a full day. This affects many communities across the province. In 2016 there were 4,305 of these incidents, of varying severity, across the province.
Societal cost research shows that over $350 million in damage is caused every year in Alberta due to damage to underground infrastructure. Average societal cost of a single incident is estimated at more than $80,000. These incidents put a strain on emergency services, require expensive repairs, and result in lost business during service outages.
April is national dig safe awareness month, and many hon. members are sporting the Dig Safe pin here today. The Alberta Common Ground Alliance is reminding all Albertans to visit before any digging project, no matter how big or how small, even when digging a garden or putting a fence in your backyard. Clicking before you dig is a free service. Not clicking before you dig could cost everything.
This year they have also partnered with the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Grey Cup to raise awareness of these issues. Just as football teams have their own playbooks to guide them on the field, the Alberta Common Ground Alliance promotes a safe-digging playbook for excavating around buried utilities. Not to stretch the football analogy too much, Mr. Speaker, but whether we’re going deep on the football field or into the ground, safety should always come

Sturgeon Refinery Update: A good news story

On April 19th I gave an update to the Alberta Legislature on the commissioning of the new Sturgeon Refinery. I was happy to report that things are going well.

Video and full transcript below:

“At the current stage of construction this refinery is able to process synthetic crude into diesel and other value-added products. Over 2 million barrels have been refined and shipped within western
Canada already, and the refinery has started paying off.”

Sturgeon Refinery Update
Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to give an update on a project that I’m proud to have in my riding, the Sturgeon refinery. It is a good-news story. The refinery is now nearing completion. Nine out of 10 units are now in the commissioning phase. This past December the refinery produced its first diesel, and I was honoured to attend the celebration in Morinville along with my colleague the MLA for Sherwood Park. At the current stage of construction this refinery is able to process synthetic crude into diesel and other value-added products. Over 2 million barrels have been refined and shipped within western Canada already, and the refinery has started paying off.

The Sturgeon refinery is state of the art and a testament to Alberta ingenuity. It’s the world’s first refinery with integrated carbon capture and storage. At completion this refinery will capture 1.2 million tonnes of CO2. The CO2 is safely sequestered by injecting it into depleted geological formations deep beneath the Earth’s
surface. This is the equivalent of taking nearly 300,000 cars off our roads. The refinery also protects the environment by producing an ultra low sulphur product with low carbon intensity. From a peak of 8,000 workers to around 2,500 today this refinery has logged over 50 million hours of employment. During one of the worst downturns in recent memory this project has provided a decent income to thousands of Alberta families.

Further, this refinery has stood out as a leader in ensuring an equitable and representative workforce through partnering with organizations
such as Women Building Futures and working closely with First Nation communities. It is also known as a good neighbour by the farmers nearby and is a huge supporter of the local community.

Seventy-five per cent of Albertans want to see more refining done in this province. The Sturgeon refinery was the first new refinery built in years and was done with the novel funding arrangement that has made this project possible. The North West Redwater Partnership is to be commended for creating something successful and truly made in Alberta. Thank you.

Question Period – Petrochemicals Diversification Program – April 17, 2018

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As someone who has advocated for the petrochemicals diversification program, I’m gratified to see the uptake from industry and the projects it has incentivized. I know that Inter Pipeline has begun construction on their $3.5 billion polypropylene production unit in the Industrial Heartland. To the Minister of Energy: could she update the House on progress at Inter Pipeline and other ongoing PDP projects?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Energy.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, we’re focused on the right priorities for Albertans such as creating good jobs in a more diversified economy. This means getting Alberta off the boom-and-bust roller coaster we’ve been on for many, many years. The Inter Pipeline project is under construction, as the member notes, and at peak will have 2,000 people working on-site. That’s not to mention all the procurement that is going on, and I can tell you that the company is making every effort to procure as much in Alberta as they can. It’s well under way, and it’s a great project for . . .

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister.

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Minister.
That sounds encouraging, but what does it mean to my constituents in terms of direct jobs and other spinoffs? To the same minister: what is the total economic impact of projects announced to date, assuming all go forward?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, in addition to creating a new value chain which we do not have in Alberta, it’s creating new markets, perhaps new manufacturing down the road. At the end of the day, when this project is built, it’s going to be $3.5 billion of private-sector investment. It will be thousands of jobs in construction, and it will employ approximately 180 full-time jobs. While it’s being built, we’re enjoying taxes in the municipality and in the government. People are working. Again, it’s a great project for Alberta, and it’s history making.

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Minister.
Given that the Official Opposition is against these types of industrial incentive programs and given your own understanding of international competition for these types of projects, again to the Minister of Energy: would these welcome developments have happened without the assistance of the petrochemicals diversification program?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Ms McCuaig-Boyd: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, when we looked at all these programs, we looked at the strengths we have here in Alberta, and absolutely resources are one of them. We have a skilled workforce, creative people. I can tell you that when I was down in Houston, we did learn that it’s a competitive thing, and we need to find a way to get those investment decisions over the line. Indeed, Inter Pipeline has told me on more than one occasion that it was this very program that made the final investment decision go. We’re following the same vision Premier Lougheed had many years ago, and we’re very proud to do that, something the Conservatives . . .

The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister. Thank you.


Town & Country – February 6, 2018 Pipeline training centre progressing despite lack of provincial funding

Athabasca-Sturgeon- Redwater MLA Piquette said in an interview the project “makes huge sense” for the province and for Boyle, due to it being a focal point of pipelines in the province. “Considering the kilometres of pipeline we have across North America, and how important it is not only environmentally – but also politically — to be able to demonstrate that pipelines really are the safest way to transport oil and bitumen, having a worldclass training facility to make sure the next generation of pipeline workers and inspectors have the best training they can get, i think it makes a lot of sense and that’s what I’ve been communicating,” he said.
The current New Democratic government has not announced funding for the project to date. Piquette said he has highlighted funding for the PTC as a priority in Budget 2018, and he is “hoping for the best.

Global News Edmonton – December 12, 2017 Alberta refinery hits milestone with 1st diesel production

Alberta refinery hits milestone with 1st diesel production

Fletcher Kent

A controversial refinery north of Edmonton has reached an important milestone. The Sturgeon Refinery is now producing diesel.

Two units in Phase 1 of the refinery are still under construction. That means it still cannot refine raw bitumen into diesel but it is converting synthetic crude into fuel.

CEO Ian MacGregor says the milestone means a lot. He likens refinery production with the last spike in the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

“I feel like, you see the picture of Van Horne and the little kid in the back there and this is the closest an engineer can get to feeling like that.”

The Sturgeon project is the first new refinery in Canada since 1984. When complete, Phase 1 will produce 50,000 barrels per day of diesel.

The project has had problems along the way. The completion date has been pushed back. Project costs have ballooned. They jumped from an estimated $6.5 billion in 2011 to $9.3 billion. Former provincial finance minister, Ted Morton criticized provincial involvement.

MacGregor maintains the economics behind the refinery are sound.

“Everyone focuses on how much they cost today. If you think of the channel between Britain and France, in the day, it was more expensive than they thought it would be. No one remembers that now.

“There’s hundreds of problems a day these guys are solving. We’ll work through them and it’ll work in the end.

“Then, 50 years from now, people will never remember anything but how much money and how much diesel comes out of it,” MacGregor said.

MacGregor says the refinery’s real value is not what comes out of it; but what goes in. It will eventually be a place to locally sell Alberta bitumen.

The provincial government also has a stake in the refinery. It can collect royalties from oilsands producers in bitumen instead of money. The province has agreed to refine a portion of that bitumen at the Sturgeon Refinery. There is risk to the province but area MLAs say the risk is manageable.

“This is going to be a real benefit for Albertans going forward. I think we’ll be making our money back and more,” said Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA, Colin Piquette.

Piquette adds the project has helped create jobs in the area. Thirty-six-thousand people have worked on building Phase 1 of the refinery. They collectively worked 40 million hours.

Company officials want to soon expand the refinery and build Phase 2 and Phase 3. Each addition would increase output by 50,000 barrels per day of diesel.

As enthused as the province is with the project, so far it isn’t promising any more royalty commitments to backstop phases two and three.

“Officially, until Phase 1 has demonstrated its viability and it’s up and running, there’d be no official discussions on that,” Piquette said. “They’re open to talking but it’s a bit premature at this stage.”

The refinery will use carbon capture technology, capturing 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year, then move it down a pipeline for enhanced oil recovery in central Alberta.

Honourable Christina Gray, Minister of Labour – Redwater and area tour – July 24, 2017

On July 24th I was honoured to have the Honourable Christina Gray, Minister of Labour and Democratic Renewal visit our riding as part of a Northern Alberta tour. Minister Gray toured the Northwest Refinery and dropped into Redwater to speak with Mayor and Council. MLA Jessica Littlewood for Fort Saskatchewan -Vegreville also came along for the visit and it was wonderful to see her as well.  It was a great day- despite the awful weather!

The NWR Partnership is presently  completing construction of Phase I and is in a testing/monitoring phase prior to start-up later this year. As a matter of fact two of the boilers were live and producing steam the day we went. Great to see the incredible progress they’ve made over the past couple of years.This project has been a driving force in construction activity in the Industrial Heartland over the past several years, providing employment for 5,000 – 7,000 people.

They are now starting to work towards approvals for Phase II which will once again drive construction in the area. Minister Gray had the opportunity to meet with Ian McGregor and other plant officials before touring the refinery itself.  The tradespeople she met were great advocates for the project, and the pride they have in being part of it shone through. 

Minister Gray had originally planned to visit Agrium as well but unfortunately this did not work out. Agrium is one of the largest fertilizer complexes in North America, and the largest private sector employer in Sturgeon County.

I was very proud of the reception the Minister and MLA Littlewood received from the Town of Redwater. Mayor Smith and Council have a special talent for being completely forthright in their concerns while never failing to be the epitome of courtesy and respect. They made a great pitch for Phase II, but also expressed their questions and concerns on such issues as electoral boundaries and rural representation, labour legislation, nonprofit fundraising. 

Later that day I returned the favour and accompanied the Minister and MLA Littlewood to Lamont where we met with a large group of municipal officials. Once again, an excellent and frank discussion was held on such issues as rural depopulation, Bill 17, senior supports, among many others.

Minister Gray showed herself to be an adept and sympathetic listener, but also  well informed on all aspects of government policy. I know she found this tour to be a valuable exercise and the participants seemed to agree. I am quite sure though that we all agree that she is welcome back any time!