Edmonton

Auditor general asked to assess North West Redwater upgrader

Alberta’s auditor general is being asked to conduct a financial risk assessment review of the North West Redwater Partnership refinery project.

Refinery project 'in trouble from the very start,' Alberta Party leader says

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark wants the auditor general to complete a risk assessment on the North West Redwater upgrader. (CBC)

Alberta's auditor general is being asked to conduct a financial risk assessment review of the North West Redwater Partnership refinery project.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark requested the review, calling it a "matter of urgency" for Alberta taxpayers.

Clark said the project has been "in trouble from the very start." He said cost overruns could see Albertans on the hook for billions of dollars over the life of the project.

"The (New Democrats) want to do more upgrading and more refining in Alberta," Clark said. "If they're going to do that, they have to be cautious about how they do that and make sure that government finances are not at risk."

The project partnership is between Canadian Natural Resources and the provincial government. The refinery will upgrade bitumen into low-sulphur diesel fuel for sale outside of Alberta and Canada.

The government is backing the project by offering to provide 75 per cent of feedstock to produce 50,000 barrels of upgraded bitumen a day over 30 years.

The government is also planning to loan the project between $300 million and $400 million through the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission (APMC).

Through an order in council on Dec. 18, 2015, the government authorized increased borrowing to the refinery project.

Brad Hartle, spokesman for the minister of energy, said in a statement the "increased borrowing authority is not due to any new cost increase to the project." He said the borrowing represented the government's initial commitment to the project.

The refinery is located 45 kilometres northeast of Edmonton in Sturgeon County. It's slated to open in 2017.

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