Oil and Alberta have been synonymous since February 13, 1947, when the Leduc #1 well first tapped a large deposit of crude about 20 kilometers south of Edmonton. But in recent times, due to a flood of cheap Saudi oil that shows no sign of letting up any time soon, the economy in Alberta has been in a pinch.
Enter SunCrop Phytolium Corp, the brainchild of a group of old-school Calgary energy moguls ,headed up by CEO and former CBC Dragon, Bert Chilson.
“SunCrop is our way of hedging Alberta’s oil economy so it’s not so dependant on international pressures,” says Chilson, “so by diversifying our inputs and products we’re creating a more robust oil-centred economy that will last us well into this century and beyond.”
Chilson stresses that Suncrop is no ordinary LP, with vertically integrated plans that stretch from Alberta’s wheat fields all the way to a repurposed oil refinery that will use fractionated distillation columns to separate crude cannabis oil into its constituent cannabinoids and terpenes, much the same way crude petroleum was processed at the facility before it had to shut its doors in 2016.
SunCrop has also purchased 20,000 acres of prime Alberta prairie land that will be used to grow cannabis after legalization. “In the meantime, we’re actively breeding a strain of cannabis that will balance solid outdoor growth traits suited to the Alberta climate and soils that should produce yields of about 5 percent cannabinoids and terpenes by dry weight” says Chilson.
SunCrop is aiming at dried whole-plant cannabis yields of about 30 kilograms per acre, which would equate to about 1.5 kilograms of crude cannabis oil per acre per year. For comparison, a popular traditional crop like flax produces an average profit per acre of about $109, with the value of the crop being $308. At present average market value of ten dollars per gram, the oil from one acre of SunCrop’s cannabis would be worth $15,000. SunCrop expects the cost of production per acre to be in the neighborhood of about $400.
As Chilson points out, this low cost of production is made possible by the fact that the cannabis being produced is not intended to be sold in its natural form. “First and foremost, SunCrop is all about adding value through vertical streams. This is just the beginning. Our next goal is to become the hub for any and all Alberta farmers who choose to grow cannabis once the laws and regulations change. They can grow the cannabis, then bring it to one of our extraction hubs—we have 5 planned for next year across the province. We’ll pay them a flat rate for the whole-plant dried cannabis, then use a simple extraction process to turn it into crude oil, which will then be shipped to the refinery.”
True to Alberta’s spirit, SunCrop’s regional extraction facilities will all be located near historic grain elevators that have also recently been acquired by the company and are being repurposed, with eventual plans to use the province’s extensive rail networks to move crude oil from the field to the refinery. “We thought about painting ‘Alberta Weed Pool’ on all the elevators” jokes Chilson.
He explains how once the oil has been separated into its constituents they will be re-formulated into various recreational and therapeutic products, such as dabs, medicated oils, and bath bombs. “We control everything from the genetics through production, processing, manufacturing, and shipping, adding value at every step of the way. In my experience, this is a sure path to success.”
However the future plays out, Chilson seems on track to be the first bona fide cannabis oil tycoon in the history of not only Canada, but the world.
Featured image coutesy of Kaz Ish.
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*This article is a satirical work. Nothing is true; oil is permitted.