Alberta Government Takes 50% Stake In Sturgeon Refinery

The Alberta government is taking 50% ownership of the controversial Sturgeon Refinery northeast of Edmonton.

The province has signed a restructuring deal that also extends the length of Alberta's processing contract with the refinery by 10 years, through 2058.

The provincial government says the deal means less taxpayer risk in the long-term. It says Alberta will benefit from being both a toll payer and a facility owner.

The government says the restructuring deal won't cost the province anymore than it was already obligated to pay as a toll payer. The government-owned Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission has a contract to provide bitumen to the refinery.

The refinery has faced criticism in the past for cost overruns. The $9.7-billion facility began processing bitumen last year after two years of delays blamed mainly on equipment failures.

Prior to today's announcement, the refinery was owned by North West Refining and oil sands producer Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) , which also provides bitumen to the refinery.