Albertans are still waiting for the fallout from record oil company profits
The impact of Canadian oil and gas companies could be less significant than for the past few decades.
Despite the record profits of Alberta energy companies in recent months, many Albertans are still waiting to reap the benefits of this oil boom. According to a labor market expert, this period of growth is different from previous ones and its positive consequences for the province's economy could be just as different.
Joseph Marchand, an economist from the University of Alberta, has studied past oil booms and their economic impact on different economic sectors in the province.
According to his research, every job created in the energy sector over the past 50 years has led to the creation of additional employment in other sectors, such as services, construction or sales. This time, the portrait could be different.
Even if the profits of the oil companies have exploded in 2022, it is the shareholders who benefit first and foremost. Instead of reinvesting their earnings in their day-to-day operations, companies prefer to increase their dividends to shareholders or reduce their debt.
For Mr. Marchand, it is also crucial to take into account the energetic transition. He believes the province should target new economic drivers that could have the same positive impact on Alberta workers that the oil and gas industry has had.
“We know that growth is not going to happen [in the oil and gas sector] unless there is a radical change in the energy policy.
— Joseph Marchand, an economist at the University of Alberta
According to him, the solution could be to turn to critical minerals, the hydrogen production, the technology sector or the food industry.
There's a lot of movement and it's hard to pinpoint one thing, says the economist.
In Vulcan County, where the energy industry is responsible for more than half of tax revenue, the fallout is still pending.
According to its prefect, Jason Schneider, previously, when the price of a barrel of oil rose, everyone hired on the left and to the right. We certainly didn't see that this time around, he adds.
The Vulcan Country Inn has been having a slow time lately.
En times of prosperity, the Vulcan Country Inn employs several people. These days the owner is sometimes the only one working, taking care of both the rooms and the reception. If oil exploration picks up again and workers flock to Vulcan, these tasks could be delegated to other staff.
As in many other Alberta communities largely dependent on oil, business has been sluggish in Vulcan for some time, but it is still hoped that some of the oil companies' record profits will reinvigorate the area.
With information from Joel Dryden