The Alberta government has doubled, to C$2 billion ($1.6 billion), a subsidy program for new petrochemical projects that increase demand for natural gas and liquid byproducts from wells and processing sites across the province.

The increase is in response to strong interest shown by industry with applications to take advantage of an Energy Diversification Act, which the Alberta legislature passed last spring, said Premier Rachel Notley.

Aid offers in the act attracted 23 proposals by Canadian and international companies that would generate C$20.6 billion ($16.5 billion) in private investment if all the projects were built, Notley said.

The extent of new development and added gas and liquids byproduct activity would depend on the results of a selection process that would award aid to projects by applying a long list of economic viability benchmarks.

The subsidy program includes grants and loan guarantees for gas processing and liquids extraction facilities, plus credits against future provincial royalties that go to project sponsors for transfer to producers in exchange for supply commitments.

An earlier version of the scheme generated two projects.

Inter Pipeline Ltd. is building a C$3.5 billion ($2.8 billion) plant to make 525,000 tons/year of polypropylene from 22,000 b/d of propane. The subsidy program is providing C$200 million ($160 million).

Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Co., a partnership of Pembina Pipeline Corp. and Kuwait Petroleum Corp., is scheduled to make a construction decision this year on a plan to use 35,000 b/d of propane to make 800,000 tons/year of polypropylene. The subsidy program would provide C$300 million ($240 million).

“The time is now to think big, take action and finally upgrade more of our energy at home,” Notley said in announcing the program expansion in a speech to an annual assembly of Alberta municipal government leaders.

“We’re fighting for Albertans to make sure we get every dollar of value for the oil and gas resources that belong to them. For decades, we’ve been settling for less while seeing new jobs and investment go south of the border.”

The announcement countered deepening gloom over fallen prices for Alberta gas and oil, attributed partly to growing rival production in the United States that has eroded the value of Canadian exports.