Having lived in Alberta on and off for over 60 years, I’ve seen my share of boom and bust cycles, perhaps our most well known economic phenomenon. But this last one has still surprised me. And for good reason. It is the largest in the province’s history. The driver, of course, is the price of oil. From a dip into the negative in early 2020, it is now sailing above $90 per barrel, and generating the highest revenue from oil and gas royalties in the province’s history.
The industry is flush with cash, in its strongest position in years. Canadian Natural Resources, Suncor Energy, Cenovus Energy and Imperial Oil have all increased their capital spending.
Only a year ago, the provincial government was predicting a deficit of $18.2 billion; it is now budgeting for a surplus of over $500 million. Now that’s bust to boom with a vengeance.
One of Alberta’s iconic bumper stickers reads: “Please God, let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away next time.” The prayer has been answered. Has the promise? Are we socking away a share of the windfall for leaner times? Of course not. That would be downright un-Albertan.