OTTAWA – Canada’s $1.6-billion bailout package for Alberta’s battered oil industry is well underway but with little transparency about who is getting the money and for what.
Almost $1 billion of the package of loans, guarantees and government grants announced last December is in the hands of companies but details are available for just a small fraction of the spending.
Two Alberta petrochemical projects each received $49 million for new facilities to turn propane into a type of plastic, while about $37 million flowed to various oil and gas companies to develop or buy technology to reduce their environmental impact.
The funds are flowing as pressure is mounting on Canadian banks and investment firms to reconsider their backing of fossil-fuel projects as major national banks in Europe have begun to flee the sector, citing climate change risks and a transitioning global economy.
The Export Development Bank of Canada, which set aside $1 billion in the national bailout for loans and loan guarantees, said earlier this year it was getting out of the coal business but would continue to aid oil and gas companies.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Alberta government insist investors need to see how much more sustainable Canada’s industry is compared to some competitors and continue to invest in it as oil and gas remain big elements in the global energy supply.