10/13/2016 05:37 EDT | Updated 10/13/2016 05:38 EDT

Alberta Energy Panel To Advise On Industry Upgrades

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has struck a panel to advise it on the best way to upgrade its energy industry.

Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd said Thursday the seven-member panel will do research, talk to stakeholders and the public, and report back in a year on initiatives such as upgrading and refining.

"We're going to have them look at all of those options,'' said McCuaig-Boyd.

"If there is going to be government policy or programs to help with this, we want to make sure we're strategic.

"We'll defer to the committee on the best advice of what will bring investment.''

An oilfield pumpjack, belonging to Crescent Point Energy, works on an oil well pumping crude near Longview, Alberta on June 18, 2016. The Rocky Mountains are in the distance. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Its co-chairs are Jeanette Patell with General Electric, and Gil McGowan, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

The panel has a budget of $150,000 and it's not clear yet what its public engagement process will look like.

Adding to and upgrading value for Alberta's oil and gas resources has been a cornerstone policy of Premier Rachel Notley's government.

Wildrose energy critic Leela Sharon Aheer agreed attracting investors should be at the top of the panel's agenda.

But she said the current NDP policy, such as the looming broad-based carbon tax, is working at cross purposes.

"We have to see how it's going to attract investment. That should be at the top of that mandate,'' she said.

"But if you look at past (NDP) policy, it's not intuitive that way.''


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