Canada gives struggling oil sector C$1.6 billion boost

The Canadian government said on Tuesday that it would spend C$1.6 billion ($1.19 billion), mostly through loans, to assist the country’s oil and gas industry, which has struggled to move energy to U.S. markets due to full pipeline capacity.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in Edmonton, Alberta, that the aid package would include C$1 billion for energy exporters to invest in new technologies, boost working capital or find new markets.

Canada is producing a record 4.9 million barrels of oil per day this month, according to National Energy Board estimates, but pipeline capacity has not expanded as quickly to move crude to U.S. refineries. The bottlenecks have resulted in steep price discounts.

The federal aid package also includes C$500 million in commercial financing spread over three years to help high-risk oil and gas companies weather current market conditions, Sohi said. Another C$100 million will go toward energy projects through an innovation fund, and C$50 million will fund projects that involve reducing environmental damage from resource projects.

The struggles of the oil sector, concentrated in the western province of Alberta, have generated rallies in the past month demanding that Ottawa do more to help. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in the summer with plans to expand it, but a Canadian court quashed government approval of the project.

This month, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley took the rare step of ordering oil curtailments amounting to 325,000 barrels per day, starting in January, to reduce the province’s glut.