The Canadian energy industry needs more than $20 billion in aid from the federal government as the COVID-19 pandemic and Saudi-Russian oil price war ravage global crude prices, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday.

Canadian oil and gas producers need “an emergency injection of liquidity” as a backstop for their finances, Kenney said in an interview on BNN Bloomberg Television. Kenney said he has been in contact with the federal government about the issue over the past three weeks.

“Our energy producers are burning through cash. They cannot raise capital,” Kenney said. “This is a matter of the highest urgency.”

Western Canadian Select, a benchmark of heavy crude, has fallen 77 per cent so far this year, despite a remarkable 66% jump on Thursday amid talk that major oil-producing countries would soon slash production. WCS traded at $8.79 a barrel.