CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The government of Canada’s main crude-producing province Alberta said on Thursday companies will be limited to producing 3.71 million barrels per day of crude in July, keeping curtailments unchanged from June.
Alberta introduced mandatory production curtailments, effective Jan. 1, to ease a glut of crude in storage that had pushed Canadian crude prices to record discounts versus U.S. barrels.
Energy Ministry spokeswoman Samantha Peck said the government had not yet decided what curtailments would be after July.
“We are still reviewing the plans that are in place so we can make the best economic decision for all Albertans,” Peck said.
Production limits were introduced by Alberta’s previous New Democratic Party government to shore up prices, and are intended to remain in place until the end of 2019.
Some oil sands producers like Cenovus Energy and MEG Energy welcomed the move because it boosted prices, but it was criticized by integrated producers including Imperial Oil whose refining operations were benefiting from cheap crude.
Curtailments also impacted crude-by-rail shipments because the surge in heavy crude prices made shipping crude in rail cars uneconomic. As a result western Canadian crude inventories hit a record high in April despite the production limits and prices are starting to weaken again.
Western Canada Select heavy blend crude for June delivery settled at $19.75 per barrel below U.S. oil futures on Thursday, according to Net Energy Exchange, having started the month at $12.25 a barrel below U.S. crude.
Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Sandra Maler