Friday, October 26, 2007

Royalties - Doom And Gloom or...?

I would be off my game if I didn't at least mention the very important, some would say shocking, announcement Ed Stelmach made announcing that, yes, Alberta will increase oil sands royalties by January 1, 2009.

The increases mean that the money Alberta collects from the energy business could be a staggering 20% higher than the original forecast for 2010, which would equate to a $1.4-billion increase into the province's treasury.

What started it all?

A report by Alberta's provincial panel said royalties had not kept pace with world energy markets, that all projects in the booming oil rich region should be paying more.

"Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development."

"The energy industry has been a phenomenal driver," "It not only affects Alberta ... It's going to set the direction for where this industry goes and where Alberta goes the next five to 10 years." Greg Stringham, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Alberta has been negatively compared to Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez ran out foreign oil companies first by incredible royalty increases followed by nationalization.

Many oil companies have threatened to stop and or delay future work in Alberta if the panels recommendations were followed to a tee. However, they may have already taken the increase in royalties into account as this is not a new phenomena but something that has been happening in all oil rich countries over the past 5 years.

"Our first reaction to the Alberta government's recent royalty review panel report was that it was authored by a visiting delegation of Venezuelans," Deutsche Bank North America analyst Paul Sankey

However, Ed Stelmach is generally seen as being modest on the panel's recommendations and perhaps he has come to a decision that is both balanced and fair for our province.

Though there may be some layoffs in the oil sands there is still enough boom out there that in a year this will all be forgotten. Only time will tell how much of an impact this will have for the oil companies and exactly what there reaction will be.

"We will adjust to any royalty changes and we can do so with the confidence that we have an array of very good investment opportunities that will allow us to continue adding shareholder value over time," Petro Canada CEO Ron Brenneman

Some Articles of Interest:

A Quagmire in Alberta over Royalties
- Interview with Dr. Brownsey a political science professor at Calgary's Mount Royal College

Alberta increases royalties charged to energy companies
- "We recognize energy is a volatile industry. There is risk and there is reward. So when oil prices go up, the royalty goes up,"Ed Stelmach

Is Alberta out of step with the world? -"You would think from the anguished cries of the oil companies that the Alberta government's decision to increase royalties was a bolt from the blue. Far from it."

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