Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors meeting in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Premier vows to fight for oilpatch as drillers forecast almost no growth in 2020

The CAODC said it expects the Canadian drilling rig fleet to continue to shrink

Premier Jason Kenney vowed Wednesday to keep fighting for Alberta’s slumping oil and gas sector as the industry unveiled another disappointing drilling forecast and criticism surfaced from an unlikely source, the Swedish central bank.

A sold-out crowd applauded several times as Kenney listed his government’s pro-industry moves and ended a 30-minute lunch hour speech with a stinging rebuke of Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet’s most recent criticism of Alberta’s oil economy.

“These are very challenging times and I know that is felt more in the service sector amongst drillers and contractors than perhaps any other part of Canada’s energy industry,” he said at the downtown Calgary event organized by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

“You know that the rig fleet is at its lowest levels since 1977, or second-lowest level, and operating days for rigs are at their third-lowest level since 1990. And the workforce in your industry is one-third the size of 2014.”

In its forecast Wednesday, the CAODC predicted a total of just nine more wells are expected to be drilled in Canada in 2020 compared with 2019, taking the total number to 4,905. That’s less than half the 11,226 wells drilled in 2014.

The stand-pat forecast is more positive than one released two weeks ago by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, which called for a 10 per cent drop in wells drilled next year to 4,500, down from 5,000 wells this year.

The CAODC also said it expects the Canadian drilling rig fleet to continue to shrink, dropping by 48 from 545 to 497 drilling rigs, as the projected number of operating days increases slightly. It estimates each working rig supports 145 direct and indirect jobs.

Meanwhile, in a post on its website on Wednesday, Martin Floden, deputy governor of the Swedish central bank Riksbank, said the bank has recently sold bonds issued by Alberta, as well as those from the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia, because of those governments’ “large climate impact.”

He said the decision was in line with a board directive to consider sustainability aspects in investment decisions.

Kenney didn’t take reporters’ questions at the event but spokeswoman Christine Myatt provided an emailed comment later which defended the environmental standards of Alberta oil and gas.

“If the Swedish central bank is really concerned with making a difference on climate change they need to be investing more in ethical producers such as Alberta which have shown dramatic gains in reducing emissions,” she said.

“This is especially true for Alberta’s potential in exporting LNG to displace coal in developing economies.”

The Swedish banker’s comments were pointed out by Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada.

“Central bankers aren’t your typical treehuggers, so Canadian politicians should take note when they start blacklisting government bonds over climate concerns,” he said in an email.

“No amount of taxpayer money spent on war rooms or McCarthy-like inquiries will stop the coming transition off fossil fuels, which is why we need our governments to get behind a strategy to ease the pain for workers and communities currently dependent on oil while ensuring Canada is ready to prosper in a low-carbon future.”

Sentiment in the Canadian oil industry is nearing all-time lows since the federal election which returned the Liberals to lead a minority government, said CAODC chief executive Mark Scholz.

He said the industry has lost an estimated $30 billion in foreign capital since 2017, leading to layoffs and the relocation of at least 29 high-performance drilling rigs, several service rigs and their crews to the United States to find work.

Last week, the Alberta government said it would try to spur more drilling by exempting production from new conventional wells from the oil curtailment program started last January to try to better balance production with pipeline capacity.

Kenney said it’s hoped that will allow hundreds of more wells to be drilled this winter.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

BRSD trying to deal with loss of $1.6 million in funding

Level of cuts, savings will be determined later this month

Two robberies lead to pursuit and the arrest of three south of Leduc

Maskwacis, Wetaskiwin and Leduc RCMP apprehend three suspects in bizarre crime spree

Over 30 booths will be at today’s Black Press Extreme Education and Career fair

A peek at some of the booths and tips for making a good impression

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Final appeal rejected for man convicted in deaths of missing Alberta seniors

Lyle and Marie McCann were in their 70s when they left their home in St. Albert in 2010 and vanished

Infants should be tested for autism if older siblings are diagnosed, Canadian study suggests

Blood test for infants with sibling who’s been diagnosed would get information to families earlier

Rural Alberta gets more police officers, but must pay for them directly

Premier wants areas to pay portion of overall costs on rising scale to bring in extra $200M by 2024

Two vehicle Hwy 11 collision results in 2 dead

Blackfalds RCMP were dispatched to a serious collision on Highway 11

Rebels win second in row 5-2 over Moose Jaw

32 saves from Goalie Byron Fancy leads the way for Red Deer

Most Read