Nauticol Energy’s plans to build a $2-billion methanol manufacturing facility just 10 kilometres south of Grande Prairie is a testament to the northwestern Alberta city’s efforts to further diversify its economic base.

The plant will utilize approximately 300 million cubic feet of natural gas per day – rather than exporting the natural resource out of the region – and will create 1,000 construction jobs, as well as 200 permanent jobs.

“They’ve co-located near the existing International Paper Canada Pulp Mill (a methanol consumer), which presents utility synergies, such as water and electricity use, rail logistics, and natural gas supply,” says Rebecca Leigh, senior economic development officer with the City of Grande Prairie. “It also helps reduce the environmental impact of the plant by reusing the existing water works to meet the plant’s water requirements.”

Grande Prairie 
by the Numbers

• Incorporated as a City: 
 January 1, 1958
• Current Mayor: Bill Given
• Population (2016): 63,166
• Population Change 
 2011-2016: 13.5%
• Land Area: 133 sq. km
• Median Age: 31.9
• Median Household Income: 
 $118,026
• New Development and 
 Construction: $2.4 billion

Sources: Statistics Canada, 
City of Grande Prairie

Nauticol’s development could also be a sign of things to come for the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership (TMIP). The partnership is a collaboration between the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie, and the Municipal District of Greenview. The partnership has identified a 335 square kilometre region south of Grande Prairie that is set aside for heavy industrial and petrochemical development.

Served by rail, road, and pipeline infrastructure, the TMIP hopes to capitalize on the region’s untapped potential and attract environmentally conscious companies to produce value-added petroleum products – including those associated with processing and producing methane gas, urea fertilizer, and amine gas – that supports long-term employment growth for residents living in the region.

“The region’s strong diversified economy allows the city to continue to grow even during a downturn; people are drawn to the region for the endless opportunities,” says Leigh.