Policies and regulations

The Government of Alberta is active in managing our energy future while safeguarding the environment for future generations. The path to sustainable prosperity allows the government to demonstrate leadership on the world stage.

Alberta's Value Add Strategy - Oil sands to petrochemicals

The Government of Alberta has taken steps to develop a vision for increased production of value-add products such as petroleum products and petrochemicals based on the province's oil sands. Moving oil sands up the value chain and supporting world-class integrated hydrocarbon processing enhances the economic benefits of the resource to Albertans.

The benefits of oil sands development are felt throughout the economy, and would be further enhanced by maximizing the resource in the province:

  • Currently, one in 16 jobs in Alberta is directly related to the energy industry.
  • Oil sands activities contribute to substantial job creation in sectors such as manufacturing and retail as well as increasing access to high-tech, knowledge-based jobs.
  • Royalties from the oil sands help fund many programs and services including Alberta’s infrastructure, health and education systems, increasing our quality of life.

To maximize value from the oil sands, the creation of a highly integrated hydrocarbon processing cluster will be encouraged in Alberta. A cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field, in this case, hydrocarbon processing.

The operational benefits of an integrated hydrocarbon processing cluster include:

  • improved synergies – reducing environmental footprint of heavy industry
  • better managed development with the sharing of infrastructure, transportation and utilities between facilities
  • reduced capital and operational costs
  • a stable labour force over the long term
  • improved overall rate of return
  • increased R&D activity
  • higher levels of productivity

To learn more about the Government of Alberta's value-add strategy, see:

  • Hydrocarbon Upgrading Task Force (HUTF): Formed in 2004 by the Government of Alberta and industry to develop opportunities for world-scale integrated refining and petrochemical plant clusters to convert oil sands bitumen into finished products for world markets. The HUTF commissions studies to develop business cases for value-added projects as well as advise government on measures to facilitate development.  
  • Alberta's Industrial Heartland is a base of hydrocarbon upgrading and integration. It is home to one of Canada's largest concentrations of petroleum, refining, petrochemical, and chemical processors. Search the Industrial Heartland website for the latest news on hydrocarbon upgrading activities taking place in central Alberta.

Bitumen Royalty-in-Kind (BRIK)

As the resource owner, the Government of Alberta is entitled to take its royalty share of bitumen production as physical barrels rather than in cash payments. The Government’s bitumen royalty volumes will be a significant and growing source of reliable hydrocarbon feedstock for value-added processing in Alberta.

More information about bitumen royalty-in-kind is available at http://www.energy.alberta.ca/BRIK.asp 

Alberta Energy

  • Provincial Energy Strategy: Alberta’s Provincial Energy Strategy is a long-term action plan for Alberta to achieve clean energy production, wise energy use, and sustained economic prosperity.  The strategy recognizes that environmentally responsible and innovative hydrocarbon development remains the cornerstone of Alberta’s economy and North American energy supply. It also recognizes the importance of energy conservation, efficiency, and developing renewable energy sources as expanding pieces of the provincial energy portfolio.

  • Carbon Capture and Storage: Alberta has committed a total of $1.3 billion over 15 years to fund two large-scale CCS projects. Carbon Capture and Storage is a process that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and stores them in geological formations deep inside the earth. Once the projects are implemented, the expected result is 2.76 million tonnes in annual reductions beginning in 2015.

  • Innovative Energy Technologies Program: Through Alberta Energy, the IETP uses royalty adjustments to partially fund the development of new energy technologies in Alberta.

Government of Alberta - Multi-departmental initiatives

  • Alberta Innovates: Energy and Environment Solutions (AIEES): AIEES is the lead agency for energy and environmental research in Alberta. Energy and Environment Solutions brings together decision makers from government, industry and research and technology organizations to implement strategies and innovations in order to preserve and enhance Alberta's economic, environmental and social well being.

  • Canadian Energy Strategy Discussions:  Every jurisdiction across the country has different energy sources and uses, unique energy needs and priorities, and brings valuable expertise to the table. All provinces and territories share an interest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, conservation, and research and innovation. The Government of Alberta has established a Canadian Energy Strategy Secretariat to lead the work with the provinces.

  • Land-use Framework: The Land-use Framework was developed by the Government of Alberta in December of 2008 to improve land-use decision making in Alberta and support sustainable resource development in Alberta, regional plans have been added to supplement the main plan.

  • Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat: The Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat (OSSDS) was created by the Government of Alberta in the summer of 2007 following the recommendation of 2 reports from the Oil Sands Consultations Advisory Group (the Multi-stakeholder Committee (MSC) Final Report and the Aboriginal Consultation Final Report). The OSSDS addresses rapid growth issues in the oil sands regions of Alberta. The Secretariat collaborates with ministries, industry, communities and stakeholders to address the social, infrastructure, environmental and economic impacts of oil sands development. It acts as a main point of contact for inquiries from the public, industry and stakeholders on the government’s plan for managing growth in the oil sands. The plan, Responsible Actions: A Plan for Alberta’s Oil Sands, released in 2009, is a 20-year strategic plan for Alberta’s oil sands that aims to reduce the environmental footprint, optimize economic growth, and increase the quality of life in Alberta’s oil sands regions. Comprehensive Regional Infrastructure Sustainability Plans (CRISPs) are still being developed by the secretariat.