Industry optimism rising to pre-pandemic levels, CAPP energy symposium hears

A pumpjack works at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says predictions of the end of the oil industry during a global price war and the pandemic a year ago have proven false and the sector is rebounding to pre-COVID levels of production and pricing.

Speaking at the opening of the 2021 Scotiabank CAPP Energy Symposium, Tim McMillan says oil and gas producers are looking forward to being a key part of North America's recovery from the economic slump caused by the pandemic.

The two-day annual investor showcase is being presented virtually for the second year in a row.

The first speaker, Frank Macchiarola, senior vice-president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, says one of the most significant changes for the U.S. energy industry this year is the replacement of Donald Trump with President Joe Biden.

He highlighted the API's adoption of a climate change framework as a way to work with the new administration by endorsing a carbon price policy and outlining actions by government and industry to encourage new technologies and incentives to reduce emissions.

Macchiarola says the integration of the energy industry between Canada and the United States has grown over the past decade, noting that the process could have gone even further if Biden hadn't cancelled the permit allowing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office.

"There's no denying that we've been beaten, battered and wounded and industry was faced with some of the biggest challenges last year we've ever seen," said McMillan, noting crude oil prices have surpassed pre-COVID levels, natural gas demand is growing and storage levels are near a five-year low.

"Our industry still has its best days ahead of it. In fact, over the past year, our industry has rallied and we're approaching a future with cautious optimism."

The symposium is to feature presentations from CEOs of energy companies including Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Tourmaline Oil Corp.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021.