Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale Nally says changes he has made in his role as the province's first associate minister of natural gas has helped to save thousands of jobs.
Nally has been working to help stabilize the provincial market for natural gas since he was handed the portfolio. On Friday morning, members of the St. Albert Rotary Club heard from Nally about the work he has done on the natural gas portfolio since taking office less than one year ago.
The associate minister said his ministry started tackling the natural gas industry’s report on a path to recovery and wanted to tackle one of the key recommendations, which would allow natural gas producers to inject natural gas into storage while the pipelines were under maintenance. Before the changes, producers had to continue making their product while end users were bidding gas prices down to extremely low prices.
“Dry gas producers have been haemorrhaging cash for almost four years,” Nally said.
Nally said he saw the price of gas drop so low they hit negative values of around -$0.10.
The associate minister met with 118 companies and got enough support to allow for gas to be stored so it would not be bid down to extremely low prices. As of Oct. 1, the new protocols have kicked in and Nally said some gas producers are now making money for the first time in four years.
“We are not out of the woods but there is great optimism in the industry,” Nally said.
“It saved thousands of jobs, and the jobs that it saved are in southeast Alberta.”
Nally said the industry is important to Alberta, and in southeast Alberta there are 66,000 dry gas wells. If the industry collapses, Nally said the job losses would have a major impact on society and municipal tax bases.
“Some of those municipalities have 30 per cent of their tax revenue coming from these dry gas producers,” Nally said.
“Now the municipalities have to increase the tax base of their electorate, which many of them are no doubt not working, because this major industry itself in Alberta has gone bankrupt.”