EDMONTON – Alberta’s highly anticipated review of its energy royalty regime has been delayed until the new year.
Premier Rachel Notley had promised that a panel report on the issue and the government’s response to that report would be out by the end of December.
But Notley said Thursday her government wants to take more time to make sure it gets its response right.
“The delay is relatively small because we know that people are looking for the outcome sooner rather than later,” Notley told a news conference.
“We are committed to delivering it as soon as we can, but we want to be sure that we get it right, that we don’t kick something out the door that’s not ready.
“My hope is that we will be able to announce to Albertans our plans going forward in early January.”
A panel headed by ATB Financial President Dave Mowat is reviewing aspects of the royalty regime to determine, among other things, whether Albertans are getting a fair share of the profits.
It fulfills a promise made by Notley during the NDP’s successful election campaign in May.
But the review has brought a heightened unease to an oilpatch sector grappling with thousands of layoffs due to the worldwide plunge in oil prices.
The benchmark West Texas Intermediate price for oil has dropped to US$40 a barrel from US$100 a barrel in mid-2014, taking with it the lion’s share of provincial revenues.
Alberta is set to run a $6.1-billion deficit this year.
Notley said they have already started getting preliminary results from Mowat’s team and their response will take into account the tough times in the oilpatch.
“The plan, as it moves forward, will be highly sensitive to the current economic situation that we are facing (and) to the moves that will and have been made on the climate change front,” said Notley.
“People should be assured of that.”
Last month, Notley’s NDP unveiled a sweeping climate change plan that includes a cap on oilsands emissions and a broad $3-billion-a-year carbon tax on everything from gas pump prices to home heating and electricity bills.