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Aug 28, 2018

Imperial Oil CEO says Canadian energy sector remains in 'cloud of uncertainty'

Imperial Oil CEO says Canadian energy sector remains in 'cloud of uncertainty'

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The chairman and chief executive of Imperial Oil Ltd. (IMO.TO) is sounding the alarm on Canada’s competitiveness and regulatory uncertainty once again, saying that the country’s energy sector is still viewed with concern by investors both at home and abroad.

“There is a cloud of uncertainty. There is a question mark,” Rich Kruger said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Tuesday, when asked about global investor sentiment surrounding Canada. “Those questions generally relate to the competitiveness of investments in Canada versus other alternatives.”

“Some of the areas of particular concern certainly are the pipelines – expanded market access is on front of everyone’s mind. But then there are things like regulatory approvals.”

Kruger added that government and industry officials must continue to work together to address those uncertainties and enhance the competitiveness of Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Kruger’s comments come as energy giants have retreated from the Canadian oil and gas industry in recent months. Royal Dutch Shell announced in May that it will sell its entire stake in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for $4.3 billion, while the Canadian government agreed later that month to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. for $4.5 billion.

In a July interview with the Globe and Mail, Kruger said Calgary-based Imperial Oil will not make new growth investments until there is action on competitiveness for Canada’s energy sector.

Kruger added in his interview with BNN Bloomberg that Imperial Oil is still waiting to receive a final decision on its 150,000-barrel-a-day oil sands in-situ Aspen project, nearly five years after the company submitted an application.

“The process has certainly went on longer than we would have anticipated,” Kruger said.

“I’m hopeful that in the next few months we’ll get a positive final decision and approval on the Aspen project, that we can then look at and see if there are any unique conditions with it before we make a decision to proceed.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Imperial Oil said it plans to reduce its oil sands greenhouse gas emissions per barrel by 10 per cent over the next five years through new technologies at its legacy projects and through other incremental efficiencies.