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The Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has held a press conference today where he addressed the coronavirus and the recent collapse in oil prices, saying “the challenge posed to this province and Canada could not be more critical.”
Kenney held this press conference after a dramatic drop in the shares of Albertan oil companies. This came after Saudi Arabia and Russia flooded the market with oil, bringing economic turmoil to the province.
This flooding of the oil market will directly impact North American companies who simply cannot compete with Saudi Arabia. As well as this, Canadian and American companies have gone into significant debt in order to expand their operations—relying on the fact that oil prices will remain at $50 to $60. Now, oil prices are in the $40 range, possibly sinking as low as $30—making the production of oil in North American unprofitable.
“This is not just about Alberta,” said Kenney. “Energy is the single largest sub-sector of the entire Canadian national economy. It is by far Canada's largest export industry. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians depend on the energy sector directly for their livelihoods, and all 36 million Canadians benefit from it, at least indirectly.”
“The Saudi government, in particular, decided to significantly increase oil supply in the face of a significant decline in demand. I understand that this is the first time since 1930 that the world has seen a significant decline in energy demand, met concurrently with a significant rise in energy supply,” added Kenney gravely.
“We are in uncharted territory and we have seen a precipitous decline in the price of oil. This could hardly come at a worst time after five years of economic decline and stagnation in our province. Economic fragility combined with a global recession and a collapse in prices constitutes a profound challenge for Alberta and for Canada.”
Jason Kenney and members of his cabinet will be travelling to Ottawa so to tell Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the actions that are desperately needed to save Alberta’s oil industry.
Kenney also took time to address the coronavirus pandemic. Alberta has now confirmed three cases of the virus, bringing the province to seven confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus “All Albertans must be vigilant,” said the premier.
All of these cases came from people returning to Alberta from abroad and are now in quarantine. The province is reaching out to people who may have been in close contact with them.