Varcoe: Oilpatch survey finds 88% of Canadian producers see larger output in 2024, count on improved outlook

‘There’s an overwhelmingly optimistic sense across the well being of the business. And no one is trying to develop massively’

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Regardless of a uneven journey for vitality costs in latest weeks, the Canadian oilpatch is feeling upbeat in regards to the 12 months forward and oilpatch hiring is anticipated to extend in 2024.

A brand new examine by ATB Capital Markets took the temperature of Canadian executives over the previous month, with petroleum producers, oilfield companies companies and institutional traders displaying an “enhancing sentiment” as 2024 attracts nearer.

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“By and huge, the Canadian vitality sector is getting ready for a reasonable development 12 months in 2024,” the report states.

“Buoyed by stronger crude costs, business sentiment indicators had been sharply improved from our spring 2023 survey.”

The most recent ballot discovered 60 per cent of executives with vitality companies companies anticipate their firm’s exercise ranges will enhance over the following six months.

Practically 9 out of 10 petroleum producer executives — 88 per cent — have an improved outlook for the following six months. The identical quantity count on their manufacturing to develop within the subsequent 12 months.

The survey of 85 executives was performed in late September and early October. Oil markets have been bouncing round between US$80 and $93 a barrel in latest weeks, with manufacturing cuts by OPEC+ nations, geopolitical uncertainty and tight stock ranges persevering with to maintain costs excessive.

ATB Capital Markets has boosted its oil worth forecast for benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude by $6 to $76 a barrel for subsequent 12 months. It’s projecting costs will common $85 a barrel throughout the fourth quarter of this 12 months.

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The Canadian business is producing robust money move ranges, firms have paid down debt and producers are remaining disciplined on including new manufacturing, stated ATB analyst Tim Monachello.

“There’s an overwhelmingly optimistic sense across the well being of the business. And no one is trying to develop massively,” he stated Tuesday.

“Average development is a fairly wholesome place for the business.”

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Kelt Exploration chief monetary officer Sadiq Lalani stated with OPEC nations persevering with to throttle again manufacturing whereas vitality demand stays resilient, he anticipates WTI crude costs will seemingly common between $80 and $90 a barrel subsequent 12 months.

“I feel $80 is the ground that OPEC+ is working with,” Lalani stated. “As an oil and fuel producer, I’m feeling fairly optimistic.”

Like most firms within the sector, the junior oil and fuel producer is at present creating its capital spending plans for subsequent 12 months.

ATB’s survey discovered that some 54 per cent of producers assume their capital budgets will enhance subsequent 12 months, whereas 31 per cent consider their capital expenditures will stay flat. Solely 15 per cent count on to spend much less.

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Commodity costs stay a key driver of optimism inside the sector. On Tuesday, WTI crude costs closed up 18 cents to $85.44 a barrel.

Within the quick time period, 27 per cent of executives who had been surveyed count on the typical worth for WTI crude to extend from present ranges, whereas the identical quantity count on it to drop, and 46 per cent count on it to stay the identical.

With regards to pure fuel costs, 46 per cent assume it is going to enhance from present ranges over the following 12 months, whereas 42 per cent count on it to remain the identical.

Benchmark costs for U.S. pure fuel have been decrease in 2023 than a 12 months in the past on account of hotter climate. Gasoline costs closed Tuesday at $3.08 per million British thermal models.

Peyto Exploration & Improvement CEO Jean-Paul Lachance, whose firm acquired Repsol’s exploration and manufacturing property in Western Canada final month, stated the Calgary-based producer tasks its capital spending subsequent 12 months will probably be within the vary of $450 million to $500 million.

That will signify a couple of 10 per cent hike from this 12 months’s cap-ex ranges.

“I feel (fuel) costs will probably be higher subsequent 12 months than this 12 months, however I don’t see them taking off just like the 12 months earlier than,” Lachance stated in a latest interview.

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“Past 2024, we see that with the build-out of extra LNG . . . takeaway capability (is) going up considerably and we expect 2025 goes to be a terrific 12 months for fuel costs.”

The Woodfibre LNG site
The Woodfibre LNG web site is seen on Howe Sound as work continues to organize for building, in Squamish, B.C., Wednesday, July 5, 2023. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Over the longer run, 91 per cent of survey respondents consider costs for WTI crude will common greater than US$75 a barrel over the following three to 5 years.

For oilfield companies companies, together with drillers, 90 per cent stated they consider exercise ranges from clients will enhance subsequent 12 months, assuming oil stays within the vary of $85 to $95 a barrel.

Extra spending ought to result in extra oilpatch jobs.

The survey indicated 46 per cent of vitality firms count on to rent extra staff over the following six months. Solely 5 per cent count on to scale back their employees.

Throughout the nation, the oil and fuel sector employed 179,000 folks final month, in accordance with Vitality Security Canada.

The ATB survey additionally highlighted the dangers and rewards dealing with the sector, with the prospect of increasing LNG tasks on the Pacific Coast being extensively seen because the business’s prime medium to longer-term alternative.

Federal environmental and vitality insurance policies had been recognized as the highest perceived danger within the subsequent three to 5 years. The ballot discovered 68 per cent of respondents ranked it as the highest danger.

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

[email protected]

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