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Title: Refine Where You Mine
Other Titles: Is government involvement in domestic bitumen processing necessary for Alberta?
Authors: Christensen, Naomi
Issue Date: Aug-2014
Citation: Christensen, Naomi. (2014). Refine Where You Mine ( Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
Abstract: The province of Alberta, home of the Canadian oil sands, contains the third largest known oil reserves on the globe. Extraction of bitumen from the oil sands is a key reason for the growth of Alberta’s economy. A major public debate within the province is whether Albertans can realize even greater value from this resource by increasing the amount of bitumen processed in the province via upgrading and refining. This report investigates the major arguments in the debate over whether or not more domestic bitumen processing would benefit the province, with the goal of determining whether or not the government should be involved. It finds the arguments in favour of increasing the amount of local upgrading are based largely in philosophical arguments that jobs and government revenue will increase, without offering a proven economic basis to back the argument. Arguments cautioning against investments into increasing local upgrading and refining capacity point to the current and future market and economic conditions that are causing great uncertainty about the ability to gain a return on this type of investment. A thorough examination of stakeholder positions, industry actions, and case studies of bitumen upgrading and refining projects in Alberta and British Columbia suggests there is no apparent reason increasing bitumen processing within provincial borders will make Albertans better off. In addition, current government of Alberta policy on this file is spending government revenue and placing taxpayers at further financial risk. Based on my analysis, this report offers alternative policy options for the provincial government around bitumen processing in Alberta.
Appears in Collections:Master of Public Policy Capstone Projects

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