A gloomy 2009 begins in Canada ///

The year that was 2008 started amid uncertainty, reached dizzying heights, then crashed back to earth in a fall so precipitous that it shook world markets and threatened national economies. The year ahead promises more stability, but in all the wrong ways. Depressed commodity prices, slumping demand, decreased spending, lower exploration and drilling activity, topped off with massive layoffs, do not provide the type of stability anyone in the oil and gas industry wants to see. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be a single positive blip on industry’s radar screen for the year ahead, with the possible exception of a weaker Canadian dollar. But amid all the negative market factors, there may be even greater apprehension about the full-court press applied by environmentalists-particularly over the development of Alberta’s massive oil sands deposits-and the possibility that politicians may succumb to the siren call of political gain, potentially sacrificing development of the country’s key energy source to further their political agendas.

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