With no commitment to Alberta-based refining, Kearl should not be seen as economic saviour

If Imperial Oil's Kearl Lake project represents the future of the oil sands, then Albertans should be very concerned, says the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

"Kearl Lake will create a couple of thousand short- to medium-term construction jobs - and in the current economic climate, that's a welcome thing," says Gil McGowan.

"But over the longer term, this project is deeply troubling because it's focused exclusively on the extraction and export of raw bitumen. The real money - and the real jobs - in this business are in upgrading and refining. Unfortunately Kearl will be sending all of those benefits down the pipeline to Exxon refineries in the US Midwest and Gulf Coast."

McGowan points to a study released by the AFL in March of this year - entitled Lost Down the Pipeline - which shows that energy companies are expanding U.S.-based bitumen refining capacity at a furious pace.

In the report, the AFL identifies ten refineries in eight American states that are currently being re-tooled to process bitumen from Alberta. Once completed, these refineries will have the combined capacity to handle 2.8 million barrels per day - more than double the total current output from the oil sands.

"Given what's happening south of the border, it's starting to look like Kearl is a sign of things to come for Albertans," says McGowan. "We'll get the environmental consequences and the penny-on-the-dollar royalties, while the Americans will get the long-term jobs and revenue that come with value-added production."

McGowan says the big question that Albertans should be asking now is "when will the Stelmach government start using its legislative power to stop energy companies from shipping Alberta jobs down the pipeline?"

McGowan is currently in Ottawa with other provincial and national union leaders attending a meeting of the Canadian Labour Congress executive council. Print and radio reporters interested in talking to McGowan about the Kearl project can reach him by phone. McGowan will also make himself available for television interviews for any station that has affiliates in Ottawa.


For more information, call:

Gil McGowan, AFL President (780) 218-9888 (cell)

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