“The door, actually, compared with the last time we looked at a royalty review, seems to be much further open,” Husky Energy Inc. chief operating officer Rob Peabody said at an RBC Capital Markets conference Monday.
The last time the province conducted a review of the royalties charged to oil and gas companies was in 2007 under then-premier Ed Stelmach. Energy executives criticized that review by saying it was conducted with minimal industry consultation.
Notley confirmed last week that her government would begin a review of the province’s royalties within six months and plans to move ahead with the promises it made during the election campaign, including hiking corporate taxes from 10 to 12 per cent. The NDP took power on May 5 in a dramatic win over the long-ruling Progressive Conservatives.
“Since the party has been elected, the premier has actually made lots of constructive noises about wanting a very collaborative working relationship,” Peabody said during a panel discussion with executives from Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Imperial Oil Ltd.
The panelists each took turns expressing measured support for the new left-leaning government, including CNRL’s executive vice-president Doug Proll, who denied an accusation his company had “come out punching” against the new government.
Last week, CNRL said it was postponing an investor open house as a result of uncertainty brought on by the NDP’s proposals — a statement the company has since attempted to clarify.
Proll said the NDP “promised a royalty review, which was strongly supported by the people of Alberta. As recently as last week as much as 65 per cent of the people were in favour of a review.”
“We’re not against that,” Proll said, adding his company wanted to better understand the NDP’s specific policy plans before it hosted an open-house that would detail long-term business plans.
Paul Masschelin, Imperial Oil’s senior vice-president of finance and administration, echoed many of Proll’s main points as he addressed the roomful of investors.
“I think one needs to look at the total package: Royalties is one facet of the interface between private enterprise and the government,” Masschelin said. Imperial Oil has said it is open to a discussion of all forms of the province’s energy policy.
Similarly, Suncor’s chief financial officer Alister Cowan gave the NDP credit for being “very focused on jobs and driving the economy forward” while looking to close “a fairly substantial deficit.”
“I’m confident that we’ll get the right solution, that we require, after this review,” Cowan said.