By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada and the G20 countries agree on the need for oil price stability, but in a Friday meeting Canada did not promise any specific production cuts, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said on Friday.
The minister also said that the federal government would deliver an aid package to provide liquidity to the country’s struggling oil and gas sector “soon.”
Top oil nations pushed on Friday to finalize a deal on sweeping oil cuts at a G20 teleconference, in which O’Regan participated, to lift prices slammed by the coronavirus crisis, with Russia and Saudi Arabia taking the lion’s share and the United States showing unusual willingness to help out.
Riyadh, Moscow and its allies, which make up the informal OPEC+ group, had forged a pact to curb crude production by the equivalent of 10% of global supplies in marathon talks on Thursday, and said they wanted others to cut a further 5%.
In an interview with Russian state television channel Rossiya-24, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that Canada was ready to cut oil output by around 1 million bpd.
“That’s news to me. I haven’t heard that figure before,” O’Regan told Reuters in a telephone interview. Referring to curtailment figures, he said: “The exchange of numbers will come at some point, but it did not in this G20.”
The G20 call “was about finding the mechanisms to achieve price stability,” O’Regan told reporters in an earlier teleconference. “We’re not where we need to be yet.”
The western province of Alberta, Canada’s biggest oil producing region, “has already formerly curtailed 80,000 barrels per day,” O’Regan said, noting that he did not have the authority to promise curtailment because it is the mandate of provincial governments.
Falling demand could lead to oil production in Canada falling by an additional 750,000 bpd, a government source said.
In an email, Artem Abramov, Head of Shale Research for Rystad Energy, said “Canada’s oil production will be down in April by more than 1 million bpd for economic reasons anyway”.
Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, extracting some 4.9 million bpd in February.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that efforts to ease the global oil glut should be done in a “concerted” way, without indicating whether the country would limit its own output.
In the interview, O’Regan also said promised aid for struggling energy companies would be coming “soon.”
“We’re going to focus on liquidity,” O’Regan said, without providing any details.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Rosalba O’Brien and Sandra Maler