14 May 2007

Oil companies oppose Alberta royalty hikes

From Oilweek:
In a written submission to a provincial royalty review panel, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says oilsands projects have a lot of major obstacles to overcome before producing even a barrel of crude. This includes multi-billion dollar up-front cash layouts, long lead times and swirling cost pressures for both material and labour.

"Looking at royalties per barrel in the early years of a project is like looking at a child from age three to six and then saying, 'they will never amount to anything important over their lifetime,' " CAPP said in its submission.

The oilpatch lobby group said oilsands developments are among the most expensive energy projects in the world to build.

Years of unprecedented high commodity prices and a string of record profits from Canada‘s big energy companies has triggered an undercurrent in Alberta that the oilpatch is not paying the province enough.

Under the current structure, companies pay just one per cent of gross revenues until all construction costs are recouped.

The rate then climbs to 25 per cent of net royalties.
The complete CAPP presentation can be found at capp.ca. It describes the oilsands resource, the existing royalty regime and some details of how the oilsands have been performing financially:
There is also a general public perception that royalties have not kept pace with increased commodity prices. But, as noted above, oil sands royalties and lease payments have increased 16 fold in the past five years — from $250 million to $4 billion — to become a major contributor to the provincial surplus.

As of December 2006, 34 of 66 projects covered by the Generic Regime are now in post-payout phases and more are reaching payout quickly. But just looking at the number of projects does not show that just 10 projects make up 88 per cent of the oil sands production. Th is means that about 75 per cent of oil sands projects by volume are paying the 25 per cent post-payout royalty.

In many cases, these projects have achieved full royalty payments ahead of schedule, precisely because the regime is instantly responsive to commodity prices. As prices have risen, so too have gross revenues, thus increasing both the amount of the gross royalty and increasing the fl ow of funds to pay down capital costs and move the project to post-payout royalty payments. In a high-commodity-price environment, projects pay out faster — and then pay higher royalties sooner. If prices decline, royalties automatically adjust to support project economics.