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Alsands seeks tax breaks for oilsands plant

In 1967, a new age began for Canada's oil industry when the oilsands of Alberta finally began yielding their long-sought riches. As the environmental and health impacts of oilsands production emerged, scientists looked for ways to obtain the oil more cleanly. Today the oilsands keep Alberta's economy humming, but opponents say it's a dirty business whose true cost has yet to be realized.

It takes money to make money, or so the cliché goes. In the case of Alsands, an energy consortium that aims to build Alberta's third oilsands project, it'll take the province's money. The company, which has just won approval from the province, says the plant could be ready by 1986 if it gets tax breaks to defray development costs. In this 1979 report, CBC's Terry Milewski discovers that there seems to be little alternative but to exploit the oilsands, no matter the cost. 
• The Alsands proposal was spearheaded by a consortium of seven oil companies. During the course of negotiations with the province and the federal government over the next three years, company after company pulled out, throwing the project into jeopardy.
  • Alsands was declared dead on April 30, 1982, after the last two remaining private backers - Shell Canada and Gulf Canada - pulled out despite Alberta's pledge to invest as a 50-per-cent owner of the project.

• By then the project's value had reached $13.5 billion, but Shell president William Daniel said that uncertainty in oil prices as well as inflation and interest rates meant Alsands had become too risky. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Aug. 1, 1979
Guest(s): Ed Czaja, Ted Strashok, John Swearingen
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Terry Milewski

Last updated: May 13, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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