Briefing

Foreign oilsands output in Alberta has dropped significantly over the past five years

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Non-Canadian companies produced about 16 per cent of total oilsands production this year, as compared to 33 per cent in 2014 and 22 per cent in 2010. (Canadian Press)

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Talking point: Alberta’s oilsands have been bleeding foreign money since the 2014 crash in global oil prices; that’s thanks to a combination of increased taxation and stricter regulation, including a lower methane cap introduced by the federal government in 2018. Mounting legal challenges to new pipelines—like Keystone XL and Enbridge’s expansion of its Line 3 pipeline—have also discouraged foreign investors; U.S. companies alone have divested over US$30 billion dollars in the past three years. But ownership of foreign assets has mostly been transferred to Canadian companies, increasing their footprint in the global market. Earlier in 2019, Oklahoma-based firm Devon sold its Jackfish thermal oilsands project to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources for $3.8 billion. That deal made Canadian Natural Resources one of the world’s largest oil firms. And, while foreign capital marches out, Canada’s overall exports of energy products are up. Alberta’s oil capital exodus stands in stark contrast to Canada’s overall foreign direct investment rate, which reached $18.7 billion in the second quarter of 2019—its highest level since the beginning of 2015.