The Alberta government in November said drilling of new conventional oil wells would not be subject to government production limits, in a bid to boost its ailing economy.
Canadian Natural Resources, which operates in Western Canada as well as in the UK North Sea and offshore Africa, said it would add about 60 drilling locations across Alberta and put 3 additional drilling rigs to work next year, citing the relaxation in policy and a cut in income tax rates.
The oil and gas producer also said it expects production of 1.14 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) to 1.21 million boepd next year, higher than the 1.09 million boepd to 1.15 million boepd it estimates for 2019.
The company said its 2020 production could have been higher by 10,000 barrels per day (bpd)to 25,000 bpd, if not for Alberta government’s mandatory curbs, but it was “hopeful the curtailment levels will be reduced or eliminated as we progress through 2020.”
Alberta introduced mandatory production curbs on Jan. 1 this year to reduce a glut of oil in storage and lift prices and despite November’s announcement, it continued to hold broader curtailments in place to maintain production at levels not exceeding the export pipelines capacity.
The company also said it expects free cash flow of about C$4.8 billion in 2020, and said it plans to spend about C$2.4 billion to buy back shares.