Bitumen glut has silver lining

Creating upgrading jobs in Alberta has never been more viable

CALGARY – The so-called "bitumen bubble" is actually an opportunity for the province to add value and create jobs, says the Alberta Federation of Labour. R

In a new report, the AFL shows that the difference in price between bitumen and crude makes it economically viable to invest in the infrastructure needed to upgrade Alberta’s oil resources here.

“The price of bitumen is low right now because we’re flooding the market with bitumen,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “And the solution they’re proposing is building more pipelines to flood the market even further. That’s just not how markets work. We need to refine the bitumen here, so that we’re selling what the international markets want: synthetic crude.”

Using the government’s own estimates, the report shows that Alberta can build on the Lougheed legacy and create more than 12,000 long-term stable jobs through upgrading.

“The Conservatives have promised to make sure that 65 per cent of Alberta’s bitumen is upgraded here, but have repeatedly broken that promise because they say that the price of bitumen is too high,” McGowan said. “The price isn’t high anymore, but they’re still not listening to the markets. The differential should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat."

In light of Alberta’s projected $3-billion deficit, getting a fair value for the province’s natural resources is of paramount importance. According to the report, if Alberta were selling synthetic crude oil instead of raw bitumen, producers would be earning $38 more per barrel.

“By not requiring upgrading in Alberta, we’re pumping out more of the wrong thing,” McGowan said. “We’re shipping good oil sands jobs elsewhere, when the economics of upgrading make a lot more sense.”


 AFL report: Bitumen glut has silver lining


Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780-218-9888 (cell)
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email

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