Suncor Energy Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Little said an investment chill remains in the oil and gas market, echoing comments made by his predecessor that there is a lack of investor confidence in the country’s energy sector.

“We’re still struggling to get investment into Canada, no question,” Little told BNN Bloomberg’s Tara Weber in an interview Tuesday, noting that Alberta’s decision to curtail oil production in 2018 has done little to change investor sentiment in the province.  

“Any time you have the government in the markets, it’s going to be very difficult [to attract investors] because no one is sure what’s going to happen tomorrow when someone wakes up and makes a different decision.”

Last month, Alberta doubled the base limit for output that is spared from curtailment to 20,000 barrels per producer per day while extending the program to December 2020 amid ongoing pipeline delays and a lack of capacity. While curtailment has been welcomed by some Canadian energy companies such as Cenovus Energy, others like Suncor say the program results in a more muted investment environment for new projects.

“For us to move forward, we need to get rid of curtailment and have the foundation so we can continue to invest and grow. When that happens, we’ll get investors back to Canada,” he said.

Little’s comments come a day after the Calgary-based company announced it will spend $1.4 billion to upgrade its Oil Sands Base Plant near Fort McMurray. 

Suncor will build two natural gas co-generation units that will replace three petroleum coke-fired boilers.

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The new project will provide steam generation needed to extract crude oil and will generate 800 megawatts of power that will be transmitted to Alberta’s power grid. Suncor said the investment will cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with the plant’s steam production by 25 per cent.

“It allows Alberta to continue with their transition to move away from coal-based power,” Little said.

Little added he remains confident that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will eventually be built despite its most recent delay where the Federal Court of Appeal agreed last week to allow six challenges of the federal government’s approval of the project.

“Are we surprised that people continue to challenge that? No, we expected that, so whether it happens in the same time frame, we’re moving forward. The pipes are put out and the organization’s moving forward, so we’re confident it’ll get done,” he said.

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