CALGARY -- The provincial government has announced a $1.5 billion investment in the Keystone XL pipeline in an effort to ensure the project is completed and operational by 2023.

At a Tuesday press conference, Jason Kenney said the province's investment was the only thing that could guarantee the pipeline's construction.

"Without this investment by Alberta, I don't believe the pipeline would be built, at least any time in the forseeable future," he said.

"Today's announcement," he added, "is a bold declaration of our confidence in the future of our energy industry and future of Alberta."

According to the province, the agreement with Calgary-based TC Energy Corporation was finalized following six months of negotiations.

The Government of Alberta will invest $1.5 billion in the project this year and provide a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021.

TC Energy is expected to immediately begin construction of the Alberta portion of the pipeline. The project is slated to create 1,400 direct jobs as well as 5,400 indirect jobs.

"We cannot wait for the end of the pandemic and the global recession to act," said Kenney in a statement released Tuesday morning. "There are steps we must make now to build our future focused on jobs, the economy, and pipelines. Today we are moving forward with a project that is essential to our future prosperity.

"This investment in Keystone XL is a bold move to re-take control of our province’s economic destiny and put it firmly back in the hands of the owners of our natural resources, the people of Alberta. The Government of Alberta is confident that this is a wise investment.

"This is not a time for timid leadership," Kenney added. "Albertans are going through a time of real adversity. We've been hit hard by the worst public health crisis in over a century."

Kenney said the province would be proactive in its efforts to revive the economy.

"Following the pandemic, we will launch a bold economic recovery package," he said, adding that, "It (economic recovery) will only happen if we get pipelines built.

"We cannot wait," he added, "until the end of the pandemic and a global recession to act."

Kenney added that the province will be able to sell its shares for profit following the completion of the project and the pipeline is expected to garner a net return of at least $30 billion to Alberta taxpayers over the next 20 years through royalties and higher prices for Alberta oil.

Once complete, the 1,947 kilometre-long Keystone XL pipeline will be capable of transporting 830,000 barrels of Alberta crude each day to Steele, Nebraska.

"Starting tomorrow," Kenney said, "shovels will be in the ground and hiring will begin immediately."