Business

Rachel Notley calls oilsands a 'tremendous asset'

Rachel Notley tried her best to lure international investment into the oil patch in a speech to Calgary's investment community Wednesday.

Alberta's premier delivers speech to international investors promoting oil industry

Premier Rachel Notley says she wants the oilsands to expand under her NDP government. (Terry Reith/CBC News )

Alberta's premier is trying her best to lure international investment to the oilpatch, even describing the oilsands as an "international showpiece."

Rachel Notley made the comments during a speech during the Stampede Investment Forum in Calgary on Tuesday, with 25 international investors from 14 countries and 120 representatives of Alberta's energy industry in the room.

The event was closed to journalists, but a copy of her speech was provided. The premier expressed her support for expanding the oilsands and starting new projects to extract bitumen.

"It's a tremendous asset which has transformed Alberta into one of the world's leading oil producers," said Notley.

Notley spoke highly of the oil and gas industry and had the same tone of speeches given by the various PC premiers of the last decade.

"I wouldn't call it a PC speech, I would call it an Alberta premier speech," said Duane Bratt, a political science instructor at Mount Royal University in Calgary. "If any other premier would have delivered that, I don't think people would have raised an eyebrow. But the fact it was Rachel Notley, does."

Since Notley and the NDP took power, there has been uncertainty in the energy sector because of the new government's promises to raise corporate taxes, look at splitting the Alberta Energy Regulator and review the royalties paid by oil and gas companies.

While Notley has tried several times before to quell the fears, she was having to reiterate the same message yet again. This time, upping the rhetoric.

"When it comes to potential shifts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and royalties, no one will be surprised by how our decisions unfold," said Notley.

"We are working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible, and bring as much economic stability as we can, while we implement our plans."

Some industry members have said the uncertainty will remain until the government takes action to assure the industry, instead of just talking about it. 

Notley's speech seemed at odds with her campaign speeches with often focused on making sure oil companies paid their fair share of royalties, instead of promoting the virtues of the oilpatch, like she did in her latest speech.

"Job creators create jobs in the private sector, not government. And we will be honest, thoughtful partners to them," said Notley. "We will maintain a warm welcome for investors and uphold their right to earn fair returns."

The premier wrapped up her speech by rolling out the red carpet and making a pitch for investment, the same message her predecessors have made.

"Expanding existing oil sands projects, establishing new ones and pioneering advanced technologies — all this requires spending on a large scale," said Notley. "Under our leadership, Alberta's abundant oil and gas reserves will remain wide open to investment."

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