Regalías en Alberta

domingo, 28 de octubre de 2007

Hace algún tiempo la provincia de Alberta decidió revisar las regalías que cobra a las empresas que explotan sus ricos yacimientos de petróleo. Se estima que el cambio en el régimen tributario aumentaría los ingresos de la afluente provincia en casi veinte por ciento. Como es natural este novedoso anuncio ha provocado una interesante discusión que puede ser de algún interés para el Perú. Adjuntamos, a continuación, una breve reseña que apareció el sábado en el New York times .


Alberta’s Oil Royalty Increase Is Protested

OTTAWA, Oct. 26 — Both the oil industry and environmental groups were united, at least in disagreement, on Friday by the province of Alberta’s decision to raise oil and gas royalty charges.

After receiving two reports concluding that Alberta is shortchanged by energy companies, the province’s premier, Ed Stelmach, announced on Thursday night a complex series of changes to royalty charges and the system used to assess them.

According to Mr. Stelmach, the changes will bolster the province’s annual royalty income by 1.4 billion Canadian dollars, or 20 percent, when the program takes effect in 2009.

Energy producers condemned the increase as excessive, while environmental groups called it inadequate.

Although Mr. Stelmach’s calculations were challenged on Thursday, his estimate of increased income falls well below levels recommended in a report issued last month by a special government panel. It suggested measures that would have provided an additional 2 billion Canadian dollars a year.

Even though high oil prices have led to a boom that created labor and materials shortages in Alberta — the center of Canada’s energy industry — oil and gas company executives have spent the last month warning the province that higher royalties could imperil its financial future, curb investment and eliminate jobs.

Unlike Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador who vigorously pushed back against such claims when his province recently sought higher energy revenues, Mr. Stelmach took a much more low-key approach.

“We’re not Communists; I’m not whatever-his-name-is in Venezuela,” Mr. Stelmach said during a speech Thursday night, referring to Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela. “This is Alberta. We share the returns of our economic rent with all Albertans.”

But Mr. Stelmach’s methods did not mute the industry’s criticism.

“Concern and disappointment would be the two words I would pick,” said Pierre R. Alvarez, the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “They keep looking at the government take. We keep trying to explain to them that you have to look at the industry’s returns.”

But Chris Severson-Baker, the director of the energy program at the Pembina Institute, which studies energy use and global warming issues, said he calculated that the net royalties on oil extracted from Alberta’s oil sands would rise 2 percent, compared with a 22 percent increase recommended by the review panel.

“In some ways this is one big oil town,” Mr. Severson-Baker said of Calgary, where both the Pembina Institute and Alberta’s oil industry are based. “When the oil industry starts threatening, people get scared even if a lot of those threats were not particularly genuine.”

If his estimate is correct, Mr. Severson-Baker said, the low royalties on oil sands will lead to continued production increases from those operations, which are among Canada’s leading sources of emissions related to global warming.

Mr. Alvarez said a lack of detail from the government made it impossible for his group to quantify the impact on the oil and gas industry.

As is the case throughout Canada, most of the oil and gas reserves underneath Alberta are owned by the government rather than energy companies or landowners.

The new royalty program varies rates with oil and gas prices and volumes using complex formulas. Under the plan, the maximum royalty rate for natural gas and conventional oil production will rise to 50 percent from 35 percent.

The situation with the oil sands, Alberta’s main oil source, is even more complicated. Start-up projects will continue to pay a royalty of 1 percent, although that may rise to 9 percent if oil approaches $120 a barrel. After that, royalties will range from 25 to 40 percent depending on market prices. Oil sands royalties are currently capped at 25 percent.

The province will enter negotiations to bring the two oldest established producers, Syncrude Canada and Suncor Energy, into the system. Those companies have special royalty arrangements set to expire in 2015.

In an investment note, RBC Capital Markets, a unit of the Royal Bank of Canada, lowered its share price forecast for the energy sector by 2 percent and did not alter any of its previous ratings of energy stocks.

Actualidad Económica del Perú

Aportando al debate con alternativas económicas desde 1978