Oil jobs being sent south, charge critics

The provincial government is content to see oilpatch jobs shipped to the U.S., charges the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Gil McGowan made that charge yesterday in the wake of the announcement that Imperial Oil will go ahead to build the $8-billion Kearl Lake oilsands project near Fort McMurray.

"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," said 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 U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast."

NDP Leader Brian Mason also raised the issue yesterday in the Alberta legislature, calling on Premier Ed Stelmach to require Kearl Lake's operators to refine raw bitumen here.

Stelmach said refining most of the bitumen here is desirable in the long-term but "this will take time to get there in terms of adding value to it."

Stelmach said the oil company's own president said he'd like to see that plant's bitumen upgraded here or at other refineries in Canada.

Edmonton Sun, Wed May 27 2009
Byline: Kerry Diotte

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