(Updates with government confirmation, comments from premier)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Oct 6 (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta will look to use its plentiful natural gas reserves to become an exporter of hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel, by 2040, Premier Jason Kenney said on Tuesday.
The pandemic has hit Alberta’s oil industry hard, as travel restrictions crushed demand for fuel. The province’s struggles date back years, however, as the oil sands’ high emissions made it a target for environmental activists and have led to some investors, banks and insurers cutting ties with the industry.
“The potential for hydrogen is huge,” Kenney said, adding that Alberta could potentially produce among the lowest-cost hydrogen in the world. “Putting Alberta on the global hydrogen map now as this energy source is beginning to gain prominence, will be crucial for us to be at the forefront of future changes in energy.”
Alberta will announce specific actions to build a hydrogen industry later, a government spokesman said.
The Canadian government is also developing a hydrogen plan, along with many other nations.
Hydrogen would help diversify Alberta’s economy, although a provincial minister told Reuters last month that it also offered a means to expand oil and gas production.
The province wants to become a bigger producer of petrochemicals and a hub for recycling plastic waste by 2030 as well, and see several additional liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals online in Canada by the same year, Kenney said.
Alberta will accept applications this autumn for government grants to build petrochemical plants. (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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