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Oil-rich Alberta to finance greener economic shoots

Dec. 6 (UPI) — The provincial government of oil-rich Alberta in Canada said it would support a greener and more diversified economy with a seven-year, $1.1 billion effort.

Drawing from funds from a climate leadership plan, provincial and industry leaders said Alberta is working to establish a reputation of diversity and innovation.

“These investments will ensure we continue to be the energy and innovation leader the world needs as it transitions to a low-carbon economy,” Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said in a statement. “When investors are looking for new and better ways to produce energy, we want them to look to Alberta.”

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said the provincial economy is on pace to show a growth rate of gross domestic product of 4 percent for the year. First quarter growth was 3.1 percent and the latest estimate is the second time this year the provincial growth projection was revised higher.

Based on reserves for oil sands, a thicker type of oil, Alberta by itself ranks third in the world behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia with a 2016 reserve estimate of 165.4 billion barrels. Production last year averaged 2.5 million barrels per day, which was about double the output from North Dakota, the second-largest oil producer in the United States.

The climate effort provides $347 million for the oil sands industry to support ways to stimulate production, while at the same time cutting emissions and adjusting to new rules for large emitters expected from the provincial government before the year is out.

Other funds go to support ways the agricultural and manufacturing sectors can reduce emissions, grants from bioenergy projects and loan guarantees for renewable energy.

“The new funding is part of Alberta’s response to recommendations from the Climate Technology Task Force and the Oil Sands Advisory Group — to expand and diversify markets available to Alberta energy producers and help ensure they continue to be global innovation leaders,” the provincial government explained.

The provincial government is anticipating a deficit of $8 billion, $143 million less than forecast for the last budget. So far, the government is $78 million away from its goal of saving $312 million in administrative costs

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