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Monday, May 2, 2016

Canadian oil and gas industry still facing "dire times"

   Canada column for Sunday, May 1/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada, the largest supplier of oil to the United States, still faces grim predictions for a financial comeback in its hard-hit oil and gas sector.
   “These are dire times for the Canadian oilfield service, supply and manufacturing sector, with no indicators for positive change in the near future,” said Mark Salkeld, ceo of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.
   Due to low crude oil prices, the association predicts drilling activity will be 36-percent lower than what it anticipated six months ago.
   The Conference Board of Canada said the country’s oil and gas industry should remain in the red for a second year but pre-tax losses shouldn’t be as severe with a return to profitability next year.
   The board predicts oil producers will collectively lose more than $3 billion this year compared with a record $7 billion loss last year.
   As well, the economic think tank said the natural gas extraction industry should lose $1 billion this year, down from $1.1-billion in 2015.


   There is $5.6 billion in good news for Bombardier, the struggling Canadian multinational aerospace and transportation company.
   The Montreal-based company said Delta Air Lines has placed a firm order for 75 CS100 aircraft with options for an additional 50 planes.
   It amounts to the largest order for the CSeries jets upon which the company is basing its recovery fortunes.
   The company has been offered a $1 billion U.S. lifeline from the Quebec government for the planes that are two years behind schedule and a similar amount is being sought from the Canadian government.
   Bombardier is the world’s leading manufacturer of planes and trains with 70,900 workers in 28 countries.


   News in brief:
   - Canada’s socialist New Democrats might go without a new national leader for two years after voting to oust Tom Mulcair. He remains interim leader after the party voted 52 percent against keeping him due to last fall’s devastating federal election outcome. The Liberals won the election while the New Democrats, who were previously the official Opposition, dropped to third with less than 20 percent of the popular vote.
   - Los Angeles police, after 47 years, have finally been able to identify a Montreal woman whose body was found with 150 stab wounds near the site of several killings involving the Manson family. She was identified as Reet Silvia Jurvetson, who was 19, her sister Anne Jurvetson said. She contacted the police after Reet’s friends saw a post-mortem picture and her identify was confirmed by DNA testing.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar topped 80 cents U.S., the highest level since June 2015 on Friday.
   It settled back to 79.57 cents while the U.S. dollar returned $1.256 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,904 points and the TSX Venture index 675 points.
   The average price for gas nationally rose to$1.036 a liter or $3.93 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (April 27) 3, 18, 28, 29, 37 and 43; bonus 47. (April 23) 14, 29, 37, 41, 48 and 49; bonus 31. Lotto Max: (April 22) 13, 16, 20, 35, 37, 43 and 49; bonus 6.


   Regional briefs:
   - Brian Pallister was elected premier of Manitoba as his Conservative Party won a majority government ending nearly 17 years of the New Democrats in power. In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party won its third consecutive majority government in the province.
   - A bill has been introduced by the British Columbia government to stop criminals such as serial killer Robert Pickton from profiting from their crimes through the sales of books and other items. The law would allow the government to distribute the revenues to victims and their families, Public Safety Minister Mike Morris said. The bill is in reaction to a book written by Pickton who is serving a life sentence for the murders of six women.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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