Survey ranks Newfoundland and Labrador as world's 4th most-attractive area for investment


ST JOHN'S and CALGARY -- The province of Newfoundland and Labrador now ranks as the most attractive Canadian jurisdiction for oil and gas investment, and it is the fourth-most attractive jurisdiction worldwide this year, according to the annual global survey of petroleum-sector executives released on Nov. 28 by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan, Canadian public policy think-tank. This revelation drew quick response from the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association (Noia) in St. John’s.

“Newfoundland and Labrador has world-class resources that are comparable to oil & gas jurisdictions, such as Norway, the UK and the Gulf of Mexico,” said Andrew Bell, chair of Noia’s board of directors. “While we are very pleased to see these results, Noia is calling on the Federal Government (of Canada) to ensure that this ranking does not fall, due to proposed legislative changes to the environmental assessment process and other over-regulation that only impedes timely development of our offshore oil & gas resources.”

According to the annual global survey, British Columbia now ranks as the least-attractive Canadian jurisdiction for oil and gas investment—followed by Alberta.Since B.C.’s provincial election in May, the province has plummeted to near the bottom of the global rankings.“Investor confidence matters, and having a government that’s openly hostile to resource development has apparently sent a chill throughout the oil and gas industry,” said Kenneth Green, senior director of the Fraser Institute's Centre for Natural Resources and co-author of the 2017 Global Petroleum Survey.

This year B.C. dropped to 76th out of 97 jurisdictions (from 39th out of 96 last year) on the global index, a comprehensive measure of the extent to which policy deters oil and gas investment.In the survey, which was conducted after the B.C. election, oil and gas executives gave the province low marks for political stability and the high cost of regulatory compliance.

Meanwhile Alberta—ranked 33rd overall this year—is the second-lowest Canadian jurisdiction after B.C., and even though Alberta’s score improved slightly this year, its ranking remains far behind 2014 levels, when it placed 14th globally out of 156 jurisdictions.More than 50% of survey respondents said that Alberta’s high taxes deterred investment in the province’s oil and gas sector.Elsewhere in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, as previously noted, was the top-ranked Canadian province, having moved up from 25th last year to the fourth most attractive worldwide this year. Saskatchewan—ranked 4th globally last year—ranks 7th this year.

South of the border, six U.S. states rank in the top 10 global jurisdictions, including Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Kansas and Wyoming. And, because the new U.S. administration is pursuing major tax reforms and reducing regulatory red tape for the energy industry, American jurisdictions could be viewed even more favorably in coming years.“The competitive headwinds Canadian jurisdictions already face in the energy sector will likely get stiffer, as regulatory and tax burdens continue to lighten in the U.S.,” Green said.“The shackles are being taken off the U.S. energy sector, which spells trouble for Canadian jurisdictions trying to attract oil and gas investment dollars.”

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