Alberta's economy at stake, petroleum group says

Provincial budget plans eases dependency on oil and gas revenue.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   April 3, 2015 at 6:08 AM

CALGARY, Alberta, April 3 (UPI) -- The right investment and budget decisions need to be in place in order to keep the oil and gas sector in Alberta thriving, a Canadian petroleum group said.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates more than 4,500 layoffs are expected from direct staffing cuts this year, with another 23,000 on the line because of decreased drilling activity in Canada.

"We all must focus on protecting jobs and keeping Albertans working as much as possible," CAPP President Tim McMillan said in a statement Thursday.

A budget unveiled last week by the provincial government describes energy revenue as a "heritage legacy" that should no longer be reserved solely to fund its day-to-day expenses. The oil and gas industry is expected to contribute 33 percent less to provincial coffers than it did last year.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice in March said the provincial government was looking at a $7 billion revenue shortfall for next year. He called on lawmakers to focus on a sustainable economic model that does away with an over-reliance on revenue generated from oil and natural gas.

The low price of oil, down more than 50 percent since June, has been a net benefit to countries that import oil and gas but a drag on economies like Canada's that rely heavily on revenue generated from the energy sector.

CAPP estimates the oil and gas industry employs one out of every six provincial residents.

"The global market for oil and natural gas investment is extremely competitive," McMillan said. "If we are going to continue to grow Alberta's oil and gas industry -- creating more jobs and increasing public revenues to improve our quality of life -- then we must keep Alberta attractive for this future investment."

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