Alberta, Canada’s oil-producing province, recorded its first fiscal surplus in seven years after oil and gas prices surged in the first months of the year.

The province completed its fiscal year on March 31 with a surplus of $3.9 billion (US$3 billion) after West Texas Intermediate crude traded at an average price of US$77 a barrel, US$31 more than budgeted, according to documents released Monday. Non-renewable resource revenue, including oil and gas royalties, totaled $16.2 billion, or $13.3 billion more than budgeted.

Alberta’s energy-based economy -- its oil sands hold the world’s third-largest oil reserves -- has emerged from the pandemic with the most robust economic growth in years thanks to the windfall of royalty and tax revenue. Oil prices surged above US$100 a barrel during the last month of the fiscal year, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted countries to shun Russian oil. In March, the government presented a budget for the 2022-2023 year that included the first surplus since 2014. 

The government plans to use its surplus to pay down debt and invest in the province’s trust fund as well as to continue to help Albertans cope with rising prices through policies including the suspension of fuel taxes and electricity rebates, Jason Nixon, the province’s finance minister, said on BNN Bloomberg Television. 

The government said it used the surplus from the last fiscal year to pay down debt by $1.3 billion. The province’s Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund grew to $18.7 billion, the highest net value in its history, the government said.

Here are other highlights from Alberta’s fiscal results:

  • Revenue of $68.3 billion was $24.6 billion more than budgeted
  • Expenses of $64.4 billion were $2.5 billion more than forecast, in part because of health care expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as disaster assistance spending
  • Changes to contract provisions for the federally supported Sturgeon Refinery accounted for about $2 billion of the surplus
  • Net debt fell to $57 billion as of March 31 versus $59.8 billion a year earlier