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Energy Summary for Dec. 19, 2019

2019-12-19 20:25 ET - Market Summary

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by Stockwatch Business Reporter

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery added 25 cents to $61.18 on the New York Merc, while Brent for February added 37 cents to $66.54 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $21.95 to WTI, down from a discount of $21.10. Natural gas for January lost two cents to $2.27. The TSX energy index added 2.29 points to close at 144.30.

It is official: For oil and gas Crown land sales in Alberta, 2019 has surpassed 2016 as the worst year on record. Yesterday's land sale was the last of the year and brought in $3.9-million. That brings the full-year proceeds to a grand total of $119-million, nearly one-fifth of last year's total of $505-million. The previous worst year on record (measured from when the current sale system was adopted in 1977) was 2016, when sales brought in just $137-million. The best year was 2011 and its record sales of $3.5-billion.

The poor performance of 2019 reflected not only pipeline capacity woes and difficulty accessing capital markets (which have plagued the energy sector for years), but also the oil production curtailments that the Alberta government enacted at the start of the year. The curtailment policy was originally expected to expire at the end of 2019, but was recently extended into late 2020. Even so, the hope is that 2020 land sales -- and the oil patch in general -- will enjoy a recovery. Notably, earlier this week, the Conference Board of Canada predicted that the oil patch will entered a period of sustained production increases and rising pipeline capacity from 2020 through 2024. As far as Alberta land sales are concerned, the first test will come with the first sale of 2020, scheduled for Jan. 8.

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