Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Alberta premier announces 8.7 per cent oil production cut to increase prices

Alberta premier announces 8.7 per cent oil production cut to increase prices Alberta Premier Rachel Notley Orders Oil Production Slashed To Fight Price Crisis
Russell Knight | 06 December, 2018, 12:00

"We have a responsibility to act".

The letter says 35 million barrels worth of Alberta oil is sitting in storage.

On Monday, Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd said her government had been in contact with Saskatchewan. He said even if they reduce capital expenses, they still have lots of projects for people to work on.

Canada's Federal Court of Appeal halted the contentious Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would almost triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast - a setback that came just as the federal government bought the project to help ensure it gets built amid strong environmental and aboriginal opposition in British Columbia.

Western Canadian Select, or WCS, has been trading at a discount of more than $40 a barrel to the US oil price benchmark, WTI, because the country is now producing 190,000 barrels per day (BPD) more oil than its pipeline system can handle.

The Financial Post reports Western Canadian Select ended trade at US$29.95 a barrel, after on Friday it closed at US$21.93 a barrel.

But Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his province won't join the cause.

Companies that produce less than 10,000 barrels a day will not be affected by the daily cuts. Once storage volumes return to more normal levels, the forced cuts will be reduced to 95,000 bpd.

More broadly, the slide in USA oil followed a tumble in global stock markets on Tuesday, with investors anxious about the threat of a widespread economic slowdown. "Unfortunately, this intervention appears not to recognize the investment decisions companies have made to access higher value markets".

Now, the government in Alberta is in talks to purchase enough rail cars to move 120,000 bpd out of the province.

Notley says in the letter that there are two competing ideas for short-term relief - either let the market sort itself out, risking possible job losses and business closures, or intervene and temporarily restrict oil production.

"We've seen this reduction in production for the sake of Alberta's natural resources and Alberta's economic interests before under Peter Lougheed".

Mayor Ted Clugston has already said the efforts are "too little, too late".

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The provincial government went to lengths to describe the measure as temporary, and one that will be a benefit to government finances.

The discount shank to as much as $19.75 a barrel earlier in the day, the tightest since July.

The province is directing the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to launch the system of curtailment through existing legislation.

Cuts will be determined on an operator basis, not by well or project.

The first 10,000 bpd for each company will be excluded, said the province.

The cuts will affect about 25 larger bitumen and conventional producers in Alberta. WTI was up nearly US$2 per barrel.

"Suncor believes the market is the most effective means to balance supply and demand and normalize differentials", it said.

But Notley certainly did this with the knowledge that prices will rise relatively soon anyway as US refineries now partly closed for maintenance come back on stream.

"They're a much smaller industry", she told reporters.

Alberta and Saskatchewan want issues facing the oilpatch to be on the agenda when premiers meet with the prime minister later this week.

Trudeau's most recent visit to Calgary Nov. 22 spurred a pro-oil rally in the city's downtown.

The perceived federal inaction has been a source of frustration for Albertans.

Not all the producers were happy with the Notley's order, with critics arguing that the markets can deal better with prices.

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