A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Federal financing relief for large Canadian companies announced Monday was welcomed by the oil and gas sector and the Alberta government despite conditions that linked the aid to climate change goals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Oilpatch welcomes federal aid for large firms despite climate change conditions

Trudeau unveiled aid and financial package on Monday

A federal financing relief package for large Canadian companies was applauded by the oil and gas sector and the Alberta government on Monday despite conditions that could link the aid to an individual company’s climate change goals.

In Edmonton, Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews welcomed the announcement, saying that the province’s large companies, particularly in oil and gas and aviation, need relief quickly.

“We know that the (financial) need could be great. We’ve seen some recovery in energy prices, that’s very welcome, but these prices that we’re seeing today are by no means close to profitable for the industry,” said Toews.

While the province still needs to see the details of the federal plan, he said he is pleased there is no cap on the bridge financing offer.

He added oil and gas companies shouldn’t face problems with the requirement to help meet federal climate change commitments.

Oilsands producer Cenovus Energy Inc. is pleased that Ottawa recognizes large corporations need help as well as the small and medium-sized ones, said spokeswoman Sonja Franklin.

“Today’s announcement is an important signal for the markets that the government will stand behind viable businesses in this country,” she said in an email.

“The federal government recognizes which sectors contribute most significantly to its revenues and needs to ensure these sectors — like oil and gas — will be there to help it pay off the massive debt it’s accumulating as part of the COVID-19 relief.”

READ MORE: Feds pledge aid, financing for large and medium sized businesses affected by COVID-19

The company is in a strong financial position with access to more than $6 billion in liquidity, she added, but government support is important because there’s no way to know when low oil prices will recover.

Cenovus has set targets of 30 per cent greenhouse gas emissions intensity reduction and flat overall emissions by 2030, as well as achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050, and therefore should have no problem meeting federal climate change requirements, she said.

The federal program goes a long way to addressing the industry’s request for short-term financial liquidity help and will likely be well used as long as there are no issues with accessing the funds, said Tim McMillan, CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

“I think this is essential. Not all companies are going to need to tap into this sort of liquidity … but some that are normally high-quality, stable companies likely will be looking for this program to provide a certain amount of liquidity for them,” he said.

Environmental and climate change reporting by oil and gas companies is extensive, both voluntary and as required by regulators, he added, which means most companies should be able to meet Ottawa’s requirements.

“This is a non-sector-specific program and when we compare what we’ve been doing for the last several years compared to other industries in Canada, I think we’re probably one or two steps ahead,” he said.

“This would be a requirement that may be a challenge for some industries — I think for our larger oil and gas companies, this is the kind of stuff we’ve been reporting on for a period of time already.”

Companies that apply for public support should be willing to say how they will adapt to new rules with regard to climate change, said Greenpeace Canada senior energy strategist Keith Stewart.

“There have to be some real teeth in how this is implemented, but it makes sense that companies seeking public support agree to limit dividends and executive pay, forgo tax havens and start aligning their business model with Canada’s climate change targets,” he said.

“Companies funding campaigns to oppose action on climate change should be excluded from the program.”

With a file from Dean Bennett in Edmonton.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusoil and gas

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

Just Posted

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Ferries Sailing Cancellations

Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii - Northern Adventure

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Most Read