CALGARY, April 15, 2015 /CNW/ - In government policy, as in life, the path to hell is often paved with good intentions. And so it is with Alberta's bitumen royalty-in-kind program, or BRIK. What started off as a low-cost, low-risk initiative to incent more upgrading of bitumen in Alberta has now turned into the multi-billion dollar North West Sturgeon Upgrader project (NWU) —with the government of Alberta (GOA) and by extension, Alberta taxpayers, holding the bag if it doesn't fly.
In a communiqué released today by The School of Public Policy, former Finance Minister and author Ted Morton gives a rare insider's look at the lack of effective government oversight and due diligence surrounding the North West Upgrader project - exposing the larger and longer pattern of failed government led "forced growth" diversification initiatives in Alberta and other provinces. According to Morton "The original $6.5 billion cap on the GOA's liability for construction costs disappeared, and the GOA—and by extension, Alberta taxpayers—are now on the hook for $26 billion in processing payments — the equivalent of $63 per barrel. Falling oil prices are further undermining the prospects for the investment to break even."
Rather than being an exception, NWU fits the larger and longer pattern of failed "forced-growth" diversification initiatives in Alberta and other provinces. Alberta politicians should think long and hard before succumbing to the next version of the "refine it where you mine it" diversification siren song.
The paper can be downloaded at http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications
SOURCE The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary
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