Fraser Forum

Capital flows to jurisdictions with sound, attractive polices

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Three articles, published on sequential days this month, paint a stark contrast between oil and gas regulation in the United States and Canada.

Writing in Forbes, David Blackmon paints a vivid picture of a flourishing American oil and gas industry. Some highlights from his article include:

• Oil production in North Dakota rose 5.4 per cent over only one month this year, from March to April
• Shale natural gas production in Ohio has risen 43 per cent year-over-year as of the end of the first quarter of 2018
• In Colorado, the Denver basin production has grown by 10,000 barrels per day every month since December
• Oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to reach a record high this year at almost 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent per day, 80 per cent of which is oil
• In Texas, the state’s Rainy Day Fund will accrue more than a billion dollars more than expected over the next two years.

And how are things in Canada? In the Calgary Herald, Kevin Orland observes that:

…[research firm] IHS Markit pared its projections for output from the world’s third-largest petroleum reserves over the coming years. The researcher forecast production of 2.8 million barrels a day this year, down 6.7 per cent from last year’s projection. Output in 2025 may be 3.5 million barrels, 2.8 per cent less than the firm’s forecast last year.

While in the National Post, John Ivison observes that Canada’s oil industry still suffers from a range of poor public policy choices including limited pipeline capacity, regulatory risk and uncertainty, carbon taxes and a revised environmental assessment process. In an interview with Rich Kruger, CEO of Imperial Oil, we learn that Imperial Oil is primarily investing to preserve their existing asset base while waiting on a decision regarding a proposed $4 billion project (Aspen) to produce oil (in situ) that the company applied for in 2013. Ivison also notes that direct investment in Canadian oil and gas dropped 26 per cent in 2017, and that Canada ranks 34 out of 35 developed economies for the waiting time to get regulatory approval.

Imperial’s Kruger is quoted in a succinct summary of the situation. “What we are seeing is that capital is flowing, it’s just not flowing here.”

Words to ponder.


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