Crude Observations

Welcome to the Goat Rodeo

Well folks, there you have it. Canada has held a federal election and the results are in. An official Justin Trudeau led Liberal minority government. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. And with this election, Canada has now officially joined the goat rodeo that seems to be sweeping across liberal democracies around the world, with the highlight being crazed partisan and regional rivalries.


Whether it’s Brexit nonsense in the United Kingdom, the usual multi-party gong show that is Italy or the swamp and spirit draining fiasco that we are watching unfold in the United States, Canadians can be proud of the fact that we are officially an active participant in the populist/right/left nobody’s in control moshpit that is today’s version of political leadership. But at least we can put a Canadian spin on it!


Since many people blame the current fractious paradigm we are living through on social media, and, I must admit, I spent way too much time on Twitter discussing and arguing during the latest election cycle, I am going to share my thoughts on what we are facing in a kind of disconnected twittery way, filled with clever (#perception is everything) hashtags and pithy comments. Why? Because I can. #iamthewriter


Okey dokey, before anything, I suppose it’s worthwhile to rehash the results and compare them to my forecast that I made last Friday. First off, I did predict a Liberal minority #nailedit which was good although I didn’t have them with as many seats as they ultimately won. So how’d I do? Here’s the tale of the tape with my call in brackets.


LPC – 157 (137)


CPC – 121 (124)


NDP – 24 (43) #whoops


BQ – 32 (30)


Green – 3 (2)


Independent – 1 (2)


So what happened? First off, I dialed back my Liberal seat total from the 150 I wanted to give it because the NDP seemed to have so much positive momentum #singhsurge and quite frankly, given that sometimes people misinterpret my non-partisan forecasts for support of a particular position, I toned it down #chicken.


But clearly, the expected support for the NDP never materialized and the weak campaign that Jagmeet Singh was running up until the debates ran headlong into bedrock Liberal support in Ontario, the buzz saw that was the Bloc in Quebec and the blue tsunami on the Prairies. #nobigvotesplit


Outside of Ontario, the vote breakdown shows a country that is truly divided in many different ways. The vote breakdown shows a major dichotomy in support across various sub-segments. Liberal support is strongest in major urban areas such as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver while the Conservatives draw most of their support from rural areas. The Maritimes is a Liberal bastion. In Alberta #kenneyland and Saskatchewan, the Conservative support was near unanimous, with only a tiny speck of inner city Edmonton orange blemishing an otherwise solid blue wall. Provinces and areas with resource-based economies went overwhelmingly blue #energy, while manufacturing and technology-based areas were more likely to be Liberal red #subsidiesandhandouts. In Quebec, outside of the largely progressive island of Montreal, the separatist Bloc Quebecois reigned supreme #Bill21. The Green Party polled OK, but didn’t make a breakthrough, picking up only one seat, in Fredericton #nevergonnahappenjointheNDP. Lump it all together and we are clearly a #housedivided.


But, as the saying goes, here we are, with a should be chastened Justin Trudean #humilitysocks leading a Liberal minority government and as a country we want to know what is going to happen next #wehavequestions. Maybe I might even have answers #allknowing


First off, Canadians are no strangers to minority governments which can in fact prove to be very productive since they actually require quite high levels of interaction and negotiation between parties #quintessentiallycanadian. Lost in all the hysteria about the results is the fact that from 2004 through 2011 we had three consecutive minority governments (1 Liberal, 2 Conservative #evilharper) and as far as I can recall we didn’t suffer complete and utter collapse as a country. #notallthingsarebad


Typically in a minority government the ruling party has to decide how it wants to run things – i.e. whether it wants to create a formal coalition with one of the like-minded smaller parties in Parliament #helpme, take things on a vote by vote basis and strike deals along the way #rollthedice or act like a majority and dare the other parties to take the government down in a confidence vote – like a budgetary matter or a speech from the throne #justwatchme. And because losing a confidence vote means a likely election, the decision to trigger one is very tactical for the opposition and requires coordination and desire. #notsofast


Right now, the balance of power appears to rest with the NDP and Jagmeet Singh as his 24 seats give the Liberals a comfortable majority on any vote and the parties are ideologically aligned on many issues #NDPpowerbrokers. However, the same can be said of the Bloc Quebecois as well which will be happy as long as Quebec gets a disproportionate share of the federal bounty #whatsinitformoi. In fact, aside from the specifics of how to implement carbon reduction strategies, it can easily be argued that the Conservatives aren’t that far off much of the Liberal platform #strangebuttrue.


If the idea that a TransMountain opposed NDP is going to shape Liberal governing policy is terrifying to people in Alberta and Saskatchewan and Conservatives in general, everyone should take a deep breath, because that isn’t the way it is going to unfold #giveyourheadashake.


First, Justin Trudeau has already ruled out a coalition #hedaboss. The NDP is on the run and the Liberals know it. They don’t need to do deals with the NDP to survive as a government because the NDP will support them because the last thing the NDP wants is another election. And the Bloc will support them because the last thing the Bloc wants is another election. Let’s review this – the Liberal party will be able to survive because the last thing any party wants is another election. #nocollusion #noelection


Why? Money and trends. What? Let’s unpack that.


As it stands now, all of the parties have election fatigue and none of them have enough money to run another bruising election campaign. Never mind the fact that anyone forcing Canadians back to the polls too soon is going to be annihilated at the ballot box. #canadiansaretiredandmad


For the Bloc, they will never get a higher vote or seat total than just landed in their laps. Separatist sentiment in Quebec is not high. The Bloc vote wasn’t a separatist vote, it was a protest against the Liberals, a lack of a credible Conservative option and a casting overboard of a weak NDP. The last thing the Bloc wants is a redo – as long as Quebec gets a cut, they are in. Call it a #quidproquo. #asknotwhatyoucandoforyourcountrybutwhatitcandoforquebec


For the NDP, they lost half their seats and it is probably a bit frightening for them to consider what it would have looked like without Jagmeet finding his footing in the last weeks of the campaign #lossofstatus. If they can stay the course and consolidate what they have, they might have a fighting chance at some point in the future of regaining lost ground. #seekingrelevance


For the Conservatives, I really believe it’s time for a rethink. The message resonated across Western Canada but failed to pick up any momentum in the centre. They ran a highly partisan campaign and lost because of it. They also failed to get any interest from urban voters and the sense is that their momentum sagged as the election wore on #thetrendwasnottheirfriend. The practical reality of Canadian politics is that the centre wins and fringe is fringe. I’m not saying the Conservatives are a fringe party – they had a plurality of votes and they weren’t all from Alberta – but if you want to form a national government, you need to somewhat reflect the national consensus #ietoronto. Social conservative issues are losers in elections and have chased conservatives since the days of Reform. They need to address this. And they need a better range of climate policies than off the shelf regulations that were rejected in 2015. So while this regrouping, rethink and strategizing happens, there is no way the Conservatives try to force an election. #needabetterstrategery


Greens? Meh, whatever. Not enough seats to be relevant. Not enough popular support to get a seat at the table. #maybenexttime


So given all of the above, it’s time to get on with things. What do I think is going to happen?


Pharmacare is going to happen. This is the shiny bauble that the NDP will get. And maybe Canadians will ultimately be better off for it. #freeviagra


Energy East is never going to happen. This is the shiny bauble that the Bloc will get. The best part of this? It won’t cost the federal government a thing. The project wasn’t economic to begin with, the proponent had moved on. It’s just a political football. Quebec doesn’t want a pipeline. Fine. Who cares. #whatquebecwantsitgets


The TransMountain Expansion is going to happen. Cancelling it is not on the table. 70% of the popular vote went to parties (LPC and CPC) that support it. This isn’t a shiny bauble for the Conservatives, it’s a stick in the eye to everyone in Alberta who is rallying support to the conservative cause on the premise that the Liberals will kill it.  The Liberals have nothing to lose in Western Canada and everything to gain. Conservative support will never be higher. If the minority lasts two years the TMX will be 85% done. How does that tilt the electorate? Plus, it makes economic sense and provides the government with oodles of dough to dump into green initiatives. #takethatkenney


There will be no coalition. People predicting that aren’t getting the political picture. Trudeau will govern like he has a majority, same as Stephen Harper did and make deals on a vote by vote basis, if they even need to. #liberalsdonotsharecredit


We will be back at the polls in late 2021 because that’s how long a minority government typically lasts and no self-respecting Canadian political party is going to allow it last any longer. #wevoteinoddyears But there will be lots of intrigue in the meantime. Justin will have to face Judy Wilson Raybould every day in the House of Commons and a robust Conservative opposition isn’t going to roll over. I suspect the catalyst for the next election is going to be economic (when is it not?). It remains to be seen who the party leaders will be. The Liberals are unlikely to change, whatever skeletons Trudeau has have been voted on. Mr. Singh may walk the plank for his lousy showing. Andrew Scheer grew into the role as the election went on, but he came up short and politics is an evil business – a party convention in April will be the litmus test. And on the Green side, Elizabeth May has outlived her usefulness – look for some young blood to emerge. Finally, on the Bloc side, they are still sleeping off the victory party. #newbloodin2021


Finally, because it’s seemingly all everyone talks about, is there a dumber political movement than #wexit? I’m not even remotely kidding. Isn’t it bad enough to have one race-based separatist movement in Canada? Now we have to have a rage based one? Under what scenario does it make even a shred of economic sense to separate from Canada? And we don’t need to form a Bloc style Alberta first party because we already have one and it’s called the Conservative Party of Canada. I know that the anger is real and it’s visceral. Trust me – I work in the oil patch and I feel and see the pain every day. But separation? Independence? How does the even work? How much debt do we inherit from Canada? What to do with First Nations? How does this come even remotely close to solving our egress issues? Sure there are treaties saying landlocked countries need trading access, but it doesn’t say how quickly that needs to happen. This is just a venting exercize that makes Albertans look crazy. #wexitsucks


Canada is a spectacular country, blessed with resources and riches that the rest of the world can only dream about, located next door to the largest consumer market in the world. We won the global lottery. Stop it. Just stop. The only way that Alberta can get its grievances and needs heard on the national stage is to be cooperative and communicative. Raging begets scorn. Separatist sentiment begets mockery. Don’t believe me? Go on Twitter. Follow the centre and progressive feeds. We will never build our brand on negative marketing. We need to reach out and educate. People in Ontario and Quebec don’t care about our issues because they aren’t theirs. But we do a lousy job of explaining things. Does CAPP have a Toronto or a Montreal office? Didn’t think so. What about CEPA? PSAC? Nope. What about the province? Is there a trade office in the GTA? There’s one in China – isn’t the Canadian market important? #atasteofhoney


Look, I know lots of people were counting on a Conservative win, but it wasn’t in the cards. We have been dealt a Liberal minority. It’s workable and when it ceases to be it will end. Politics continues. Reconciliation of the country’s disparate groups is, for better or worse, in Trudeau’s hands. At the very least we know he’s great at apologies so that should help. So Trudeau needs to figure it out – it’s not just platitudes that matter, it’s actions and with the punch in the face they just got, the Liberals know they need to mend fences. I know no one has any confidence in this, but I like to live on the sunny side of the street, so I will give this minority a chance and put my money on the Liberals desperate need to be in power to see them curry favour and buy votes across the country, including Alberta. #thehandyouaredealt


The election distraction is over and not much has changed. On the bright side, the Leafs are below .500 and the Oilers are hot. #leafssuck #braggingrights


Time to get back to work. Me included.


Next week? Back to the energy sector. I’m spent. #sorrytheblogwasbad

Prices as at October 25, 2019

  • Oil prices are up for the week.
    • Storage posted an increase week over week
    • Production was flat
    • Rig Counts: Alberta up by 2; US down week over week
    • Natural gas storage above 5-year avg
  • WTI Crude: $56.64 ($53.67)
  • Western Canada Select: $39.66 ($36.72)
  • AECO Spot: $1.7542 ($1.684)
  • NYMEX Gas: $2.312 ($2.352)
  • US/Canadian Dollar: $0.7654 ($0.7612)



  • As at October 18, 2019, US crude oil supplies were at 433.2 million barrels, a decrease of 1.7 million barrels from the previous week and an increase of 11.4 million barrels above last year.
    • The number of days oil supply in storage is 27.5 compared to 25.9 last year at this time.
    • Production was flat for the week at 12.550 million barrels per day. Production last year at the same time was 11.025 million barrels per day.
    • Imports decreased slightly to 6.167 million barrels from 6.297 million barrels per day compared to 7.664 million barrels per day last year.
    • Exports from the US rose to 3.683 million barrels per day from 3.248 million barrels per day last week compared to 2.180 million barrels per day a year ago
    • Canadian exports to the US were 3.469 million barrels a day
    • Refinery inputs fell during the during the week to 15.744 million barrels per day
  • As at October 18, 2019, US natural gas in storage was 3.606 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is 28 Bcf above the 5-year average and about 17% higher than last year’s level, following an implied net injection of 87 Bcf during the report week
    • Overall U.S. natural gas consumption rose 2% during the report week.
    • Production grew 1% for the week. Imports from Canada fell by 3% from the week before. Exports to Mexico fell 2% for the week
    • LNG exports totaled 41 Bcf
  • As of October 25, 2019, the Canadian rig count was up 4 at 147 (AB – 97; BC – 9; SK – 35; MB – 3; Other – 3). Rig count for the same period last year was 191.
  • US Onshore Oil rig count at October 18, 2019 is at 696, down 17 from the week prior.
    • Peak rig count was October 10, 2014 at 1,609
  • Natural gas rigs drilling in the United States was down 4 at 133.
    • Peak rig count before the downturn was November 11, 2014 at 356 (note the actual peak gas rig count was 1,606 on August 29, 2008)
  • Offshore rig count was down 1 at 21.
    • Offshore peak rig count at January 1, 2015 was 55

US split of Oil vs Gas rigs is 84%/16%, in Canada the split is 69%/31%


Trump Watch: Ukraine. Republicans storm the gates

Kenney Watch (new!)Budget season

Trudeau Watch (for balance): Minority government


Crude Observations
Sign up for the Stormont take on the latest industry news »

Recent Posts