$2.5B carbon-neutral petrochemical plant slated for northwestern Alberta

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Calgary-based Northern Petrochemical Corp. is hoping to build a $2.5 billion carbon-neutral ammonia and methanol processing plant in northwestern Alberta. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)
Calgary-based Northern Petrochemical Corp. is hoping to build a $2.5 billion carbon-neutral ammonia and methanol processing plant in northwestern Alberta. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)

A Calgary-based petrochemical firm has purchased a 295-acre site near Grande Prairie to build a $2.5 billion carbon-neutral plant to produce ammonia and methanol.

The Municipal District of Greenview in northwestern Alberta signed an agreement with Northern Petrochemical Corp. on Wednesday.

The plant, located in an industrial park south of Grande Prairie, will produce 200 million tonnes of methanol and ammonia from natural gas annually.

The company will capture and store carbon underground.

The project expected to create up to 4,000 construction jobs and about 400 long-term jobs. Construction is expected to start in spring 2023 and finish in 2026.

To make sure those jobs are filled, the company is planning on working with Grande Prairie Regional College to develop programs, Geoff Bury, NPC president and CEO said at a news conference in Valleyview, Alta.

The industrial park, Greenview Industrial Gateway, has an abundance of the necessary elements: land, natural gas, water, power and carbon storage capability as well as access to rail and ports, Bury said

"We believe that this project is going to be a key part of Alberta's transition to a clean energy future," he said.

Bury said the demand for ammonia, which is used primarily to produce fertilizer, is 190 million tonnes per year.

"The ammonia market is going to take off and grow dramatically over the coming years," he said.

He estimates the project will generate about $3 billion in taxes over its life span.

The project will be supported by the Alberta Petrochemical Incentive program which allows companies to apply for grants for up to 12 per cent of a project's eligible capital costs. Money is given out after projects have started operating.

Travis Toews, Alberta's minister of finance, said the government is committed to supporting these projects.

"We did that so we could be very competitive with other jurisdictions," Toews said at the news conference.

Premier Jason Kenney said the petrochemical plant is "more evidence that Alberta's economic recovery is real and it's big."

He said "the ripple effect of the investment will be felt throughout the region and the whole province."

Greenview Reeve Tyler Olsen said the project has been in the works for five years.

"This is the next crucial step," Olsen said. "It's a great announcement."

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