Alberta minister says patience running short for federal energy industry aid

Alberta minister says patience running short for federal energy industry aid

Alberta minister says patience running short for federal energy industry aid

Patience in Alberta is wearing thin for a promised aid package from the federal government for the oil and gas sector, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Tuesday.

The industry doesn’t want a bailout, but instead help to cope with short-term liquidity problems caused by the plunge in global oil prices that has forced cuts in investment plans and activity levels, she said in a speech at the annual Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers symposium.

“It’s taken too long,” the minister said.

“I don’t think that means the package is not coming. I think it just means it’s complicated. But it needs to come and it needs to come soon because these companies are struggling.”

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said last month aid for the oil sector was “hours, potentially days” away. But his department confirmed Tuesday there’s still no timeline for its release, while noting that federal wage programs can be used by energy employees.

In an open letter on Monday, the Calgary-based oilfield services sector called for Ottawa to introduce a payroll relief plan and suggested it purchase their accounts receivable at a discount to give them instant cash flow to preserve jobs.

The letter signed by 13 CEOs said the federal government could collect those debts at a profit when the crisis is over.

The annual CAPP conference, held in Toronto for the past few years, is being presented as an online conference for the first time this year to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Global oil prices have plunged over the past month as demand has fallen because of the coronavirus at the same time that a market war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has created a flood of cheap barrels of oil.

Savage said she will participate by phone in an “OPEC-plus-plus” meeting on Thursday that could include discussion of broadening production quotas beyond OPEC and Russia to include the United States, the world’s largest producer, and Canada.

Restricting production on a global scale to lift prices makes a lot of sense, Alex Pourbaix, CEO of oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc., said during the conference.

“People can club each other over the head for the next six months with massive impact to the profitability of the industry or the viability of the industry, or we can take a look at doing something collaboratively with other producing regions to temporarily reduce production and avoid a massive destruction of value,” he said.

“That strikes me as a reasonably prudent thing to do.”

In a later presentation, Daniel Lyons, chief financial officer for Imperial Oil Ltd., took the opposite point of view.

“We don’t like the government getting in and constraining production and picking winners and losers. That’s not what we would advocate,” he said.

He pointed out the current low oil price environment reduces the cost of feedstock for Imperial’s refineries.

Cenovus has supported the Alberta government’s oil curtailment program created last year to bolster local oil prices while Imperial has opposed it.

Despite the current price environment, CAPP CEO Tim McMillan said there’s a great deal of optimism in the energy sector because three key export pipelines — the Trans Mountain expansion, the Line 3 replacement and Keystone XL — are in various stages of construction.

“These three projects will significantly advance Canada’s ability to meet global markets with our crude oil,” he said.

He added: “The Canadian oil and gas industry was the economic engine that pulled Canada out of the great recession of 2008 and we can do it again.”

Last week, Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. announced it would go ahead with its long-delayed US$8-billion Keystone XL Pipeline, backed by about C$1.5 billion in equity investment by the Alberta government, along with a provincial loan guarantee.

The addition of new pipeline capacity won’t affect the profitability of Enbridge Inc.’s Mainline oil export pipeline system, CEO Al Monaco said at the conference.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP, TSX:CVE, TSX:ENB, TSX:IMO)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

energy sector

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo submitted)
Ponoka RCMP receives new police puppy trainee

The Ponoka RCMP detachment has said goodbye to their police dog trainee… Continue reading

Marilyn Chidlow. (File photo)
Ponoka figure skating leader celebrated on her birthday

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame celebrated Ponoka inductee Marilyn Chidlow on… Continue reading

Elder Muriel Lee. (Photo submitted)
Maskwacis Elder Mentoring Program connects Elders with young parents

By Chevi Rabbit For Ponoka News The Maskwacis Elders Mentoring Program, which… Continue reading

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie are serving sit-down customers in their Mirror diner to protest health restrictions that they say are unfair to restaurants and other small businesses. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)
Central Alberta restaurant owner defies health restrictions by serving diners

Whistle Stop Cafe owner says pandemic restrictions unfair to restaurants and small businesses

The Northwest Territories flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on July 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta man charged with threatening Northwest Territories public health officer

Police did reveal the nature of the threats, but said it was concerning

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

A healthy volunteer receives an injection in this undated handout image provided by Providence Therapeutics. Human clinical trials have begun in Toronto for a proposed COVID-19 vaccine by a Canadian company. Providence Therapeutics of Calgary says 60 subjects will be monitored for 13 months, with the first results expected next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Providence Therapeutics
*MANDATORY CREDIT*
Calgary company begins human clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate

If successful, the vaccine could be released by the end of the year

Red Fraggle, one of Jim Henson Company’s Fraggle Rock characers, is shown at Time To Play Holiday Show, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, in New York. The Jim Henson Company says production has officially started in Calgary on a reboot of the original 1980s children’s puppet series, which was filmed in Toronto.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Lennihan
‘Fraggle Rock’ children’s puppet series reboot starts production in Calgary

A spokesperson says the new series will stream on Apple TV plus

Black Press file photo
Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

A 37-year-old man from Maskwacis has died in hospital as a result of his injuries.

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL
Couple charged after travelling to Yukon to get COVID-19 vaccine

The maximum fine under the emergency measures act is $500, and up to six months in jail

Most Read