Alberta authorities have granted reprieves from regulatory fees and drilling lease expirations for oil and gas operators to combat the twin plagues of the COVID-19 pandemic and unstable commodity prices.
The provincial government will pay C$113 million ($85 million) to cover costs of the Alberta Energy Regulator over the next six months that would normally be collected by a production levy on the industry. A one-year extension has been given to drilling leases with 2020 expiration dates.
“These actions are the first step in providing short and long-term financial relief to the oil and gas industry,” promised the government in the assistance announcement late Friday.
“These steps will provide the province’s oil and gas producers with additional flexibility, increasing their ability to protect their workforce,” said Gary Mar, a former Alberta cabinet minister now serving as president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.
The oil and gas industry figures on the Alberta Economic Recovery Council were appointed by provincial Premier Jason Kenney for advice on longer-range defenses against the pandemic and energy market turbulence.
Council chairman Jack Mintz, a Calgary economics professor, is on the board of directors at Imperial Oil. Council member Mac Van Wielingen is the founder of ARC Financial, a pillar of Canadian fossil fuel investment management.