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CNRL 2020 budget rises by $250M on oil curtailment ease; putting more rigs to work

CNRL (Canadian Natural Resources Limited) Horizon oil sands upgrader near Fort McMurray, Alberta.  The Canadian Press Images/Larry MacDougal.
CNRL (Canadian Natural Resources Limited) Horizon oil sands upgrader near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Canadian Press Images/Larry MacDougal.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. says its 2020 capital budget will be $250 million higher than last year as it adds about 60 drilling locations across Alberta and puts three additional rigs to work.

The company says the increased spending will create the equivalent of about 1,000 full-time jobs.

Canadian Natural says it made the decision after the Alberta government eliminated curtailments for some conventional drilling in the province, and because of reduced corporate income tax rates.

In November, Energy Minister Sonya Savage said the move to increase drilling activity is aimed at drawing investment back to the province and supporting struggling communities.

READ MORE: Alberta allows producers to drill new conventional oil wells without production limits

Production limits were enacted by the previous NDP government to better match supply levels with pipeline capacity and alleviate wider-than-usual local price discounts for Alberta oil blamed on high inventory levels.

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CNRL also says that it would look to put six more drill rigs to work if the government expanded the elimination of curtailment to include newly drilled conventional heavy oil wells.

The company’s overall 2020 budget is targeted to be $4.05 billion, including $1.55 billion for conventional and unconventional assets and $2.5 billion for what it calls long life low decline assets.

READ MORE: Canadian Natural Resources reports $1.03B third-quarter profit

The company says it expects to produce the equivalent of about 1.172 million barrels of oil a day.

READ MORE: CN Rail strike, Keystone pipeline spill lead Alberta to extend oil curtailment levels