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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery lost 60 cents to $24.14 on the New York Merc, while Brent for July lost $1.34 to $29.63 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $4.92 to WTI, up from a discount of $5.12. Natural gas for June added one cent to $1.83. The TSX energy index lost a fraction to close at 74.76.
The oil patch took notice as Ottawa unveiled a new loan program for large companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Called the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), this lender-of-last-resort program will be available to airlines, oil and gas companies, and other large employers, subject to what the government called "strict" conditions. Notably, companies will have to commit to Canada's climate change goals, and must publish annual disclosures on how their future operations will support these goals.
"Today's measures will help both large and mid-sized employers to get access to the financing they need to make it through this extraordinarily challenging time," declared Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Not everyone is convinced. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, no doubt remembering when Mr. Morneau said on March 25 that specialized help for the oil and gas sector would arrive for the energy sector in "hours, potentially days," demanded: "Is this the package that he's promised the oil and gas sector? Because if this is it, this is certainly not what was promised, nor what was expected." Mr. Scheer said the LEEFF program is missing crucial details and is not specific to the "very, very unique set of circumstances" that the energy industry is facing. Meanwhile, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) had a more measured response, calling the LEEFF program "welcome news" but saying it is "still waiting for more details about the rollout."
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