Alberta, Canada’s oil heartland, will go on lockdown for at least four weeks beginning this Sunday after a surge in Covid-19 infections that made the province the worst-affected in Canada.
Bloomberg reports that the provincial government will ban all social gatherings, indoors and outdoors alike, close places such as casinos, hair salons, and cinemas, and restrict restaurants and diners to takeout and deliveries. Everyone who can work remotely will have to do so for four weeks.
Albertans have not taken kindly to movement restrictions. There have been protests in Calgary, just like in other places where people were unhappy about being cooped up at home for a month. Yet, also like in other places, Albertan hospitals are beginning to feel the load of more cases and Premier Jason Kenney warned, “We will eventually run out of hospital capacity” if infections continued at this rate. “If stronger action is not taken now, hundreds or potentially thousands of Albertans will die,” he said.
Earlier this year, at the start of the crisis, Kenney’s government announced a stimulus package with a special focus on the province’s biggest bread-earner, the oil industry. Measures included a waiver of fees that the Alberta Energy Regulator collects from oil companies and an extension of oil and gas tenures set to expire this year, by another 12 months, to give businesses more time to make new spending plans.
Canada’s oil industry has been hit particularly hard by the effects of the pandemic because it was already suffering an export capacity shortage and the resulting depressed prices even before the crisis started. More than a third of oil and gas companies in Canada effected permanent layoffs in response to the pandemic, froze hiring, and cut executive pay. Job losses in the resource sector hit an all-time high in the second quarter of the year.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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