New Alberta energy minister McCuaig-Boyd in ‘listening and learning mode’

Alberta’s new energy minister says she’s in a “listening and learning mode” as the NDP government prepares to review oil and gas royalties.

CALGARY — Alberta’s new energy minister says she’s in a “listening and learning mode” as the NDP government prepares to review oil and gas royalties.

The royalty review is a priority, Marg McCuaig-Boyd told reporters on her way into the first cabinet meeting under Premier Rachel Notley.

“As the premier’s promised, it’s going to be an open and transparent process,” she said, adding that the industry will have “a lot of input.”

The hope is to assemble the royalty panel within six months, but there are logistics to consider heading into summer, she said.

Some in the oilpatch were surprised by Notley’s pick for the energy portfolio, expecting someone more high-profile or with oil and gas experience.

McCuaig-Boyd’s career background is mostly in education, as a teacher and administrator. More recently she’s been consulting with small- and medium-sized businesses.

She represents a riding in northwestern Alberta where there’s a great deal of oil and gas activity and she’s lived in the area for about 35 years.

McCuaig-Boyd said she wants the energy sector to know she’s coming into her new job with no preconceived notions.

“I’m pretty open minded. I’m very collaborative. That’s, I think, one of the reasons I was picked is I am a collaborative type of person and pragmatic.”

Also Wednesday, energy giant Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) said it can’t finalize its spending plans until it gets more clarity about what royalties, taxes and environmental regulations to expect under the new provincial government.

It was to have held an open house for institutional investors on June 17 featuring detailed presentations by executives about the company’s operations, but that’s been deferred. A conference call will be held that day instead to discuss the company’s strategy in a low oil price environment.

“Due to the current uncertainty surrounding the Government of Alberta’s review of royalty, taxation, environmental and greenhouse gas policies, detailed future capital allocation plans for each of the company’s assets cannot be finalized at this time,” Canadian Natural said in a release.

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