'We cannot let them win': Alberta premier demands federal help to end oil crisis
Premier Jason Kenney says he will be meeting with officials in the United States to determine a plan to save the oil industry in North America.
EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney is calling an extreme drop in oil prices a product of "a flood of OPEC oil" coming onto the market and he wants Ottawa to do something about it.
"I need to reiterate Alberta's urgent call for serious federal action for liquidity for our oil and gas industry," Kenney told the media Friday. "Today, the price of Western Canadian Select (WCS) oil has been trading as low as five dollars."
Over the past few weeks, there has been much less demand for WCS as higher production from Saudi Arabia floods the market and refineries buy less crude in anticipation of lower demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenney called the actions of Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations a case of "predatory dumping."
"We cannot let them win," he said. "Over the days to come, I will be speaking to both congressional administration leaders and governors in the United States about pursuing coordinated North American action to defend our energy jobs and industry."
He also said Canada needs to step in to help as well, despite the challenges the country is facing because of COVID-19.
"We're not just going through the COVID crisis and the global recession, but also a massive attack against our largest industry," he said. "We are facing what will likely be the largest, single contraction in our economy in our history."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking during his daily address about COVID-19 Saturday, said the Canadian government is "very concerned" with the decisions being made by OPEC and the trials faced by those in the energy sector.
"We are focused on helping those Canadians, helping people who are hardest hit by economically by COVID-19. The measures we've put in place will support Canadians right across the country including in our oil and gas sector."
When it comes to answering Kenney's call to get tougher on Saudi Arabia, Trudeau said the main focus needs to be on containing the pandemic and stabilizing the world economy for now. He did add once things are under control, help will be on the way.
"Once we are through this difficult time, people in industries and places right across the country are going to be able to pick themselves up and get back to work and have our economy continue to work strongly like it was before. It's going to take a lot of effort in the meantime, and it's going to take us doing different things and trying different things, but we are going to keep working until we manage to help everyone."
(With files from the Canadian Press)