(Adds detail and comment in initial six paragraphs; updates shares.)
By Scott Haggett
CALGARY, Alberta, May 7 (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, the country’s largest oil producer, said on Thursday it expects Alberta’s newly elected left-wing government will be a good partner for the energy industry, but warned that increased corporate taxes and royalties would cause businesses to flee the province.
The company, which reported a first-quarter loss on Thursday, said the policies of Premier-elect Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party would not be good for the industry, though it is willing to educate her.
“We will work with her to ensure she understands the importance of also having a healthy fiscal, competitive environment,” Steve Laut, the company’s president, said on a conference call. “Getting the balance between spending and revenue will be difficult.”
Notley’s NDP ended the right-wing Progressive Conservative Party’s 44-year hold on power in the Western Canadian province with a majority election win on Tuesday.
The victory came despite NDP promises to increase corporate taxes and review how much the energy industry pays to exploit the province’s massive oil reserves, the world’s third largest.
Still, Laut warned that the new government risks pushing investment elsewhere if it increases its take from the industry too much.
The oil and gas industry is a global industry,” he said. “Capital will flow to areas with the greatest return ... There are many alternatives for global investment.”
Canadian Natural swung to a loss in the first quarter due to sharply lower oil prices even as production rose by nearly a third.
The company reported a net loss of C$252 million ($208.3 million), or 23 Canadian cents per share, compared with a profit of C$622 million, or 57 Canadian cents, in the first quarter of 2014, due to weak oil prices.
Production rose 33 percent to 898,053 barrels of oil equivalent per day, from 684,647 boepd in the same period last year on higher output from its Horizon oil sands plant, increased natural-gas production and a stronger performance in its heavy oil operations in Western Canada.
Canadian Natural shares, which have dropped 13 percent over the past 12 months, were up 0.3 percent to C$38.58 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
$1 = 1.2097 Canadian dollars Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Paul Simao