Canadian energy projects have become less competitive than their U.S. equivalents for a variety of reasons, including tightening regulations, long approval processes and environmentalist opposition. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attempts to expand energy exports while reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions has further complicated the issue.
Petroliam Nasional cancelled a $27 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project Wednesday due to an “extremely challenging environment” for business. This followed a slew of sell-offs by major oil companies, including ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell, liquidating more than $20 billion in Canadian oil assets.
“It’s another negative data point for doing business in Canada,” Swanzy Quarshie, a Canadian investor who manages $80 million in energy assets, told Bloomberg. “The biggest concern is the perception that investors are not seeking Canada as an investment opportunity, and what does that do to other investment opportunities?”
U.S. fracking is out-competing Canadian oil and gas, so export terminals will increasingly be built in America. The U.S. is producing natural gas so efficiently it’s almost counterproductive to the industry. Additionally, American politics are far more friendly to energy exports than their Canadian equivalent.
“The disturbing part of this is that it’s not the first project and the first international major company to leave Canada,” Murray Mullen, CEO of a Canadian oilfield services company, told Bloomberg. “When you combine all of those together and you can’t get consensus, then nothing happens. I just worry that Canadians are missing the boat because we’re trying to over-analyze things.”