Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said on Dec. 4 it expects to spend CA$4.05 billion (US$3.05 billion) in 2020, CA$250 million (US$188 million) more than in 2019, after the Canadian province of Alberta lifted some curtailments on new oil wells last month.
The Alberta government in November said drilling of new conventional oil wells would not be subject to government production limits, in a bid to boost its ailing economy.
Canadian Natural Resources, which operates in Western Canada as well as in the U.K. North Sea and offshore Africa, said it would add about 60 drilling locations across Alberta and put three additional drilling rigs to work next year, citing the relaxation in policy and a cut in income tax rates.
The oil and gas producer also said it expects production of 1.14 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (MMboe/d) to 1.21 MMboe/d next year, higher than the 1.09 MMboe/d to 1.15 MMboe/d it estimates for 2019.
The company said its 2020 production could have been higher by 10,000 barrels per day (bbl/d)to 25,000 bbl/d, if not for Alberta government’s mandatory curbs, but it was “hopeful the curtailment levels will be reduced or eliminated as we progress through 2020.”
Alberta introduced mandatory production curbs on Jan. 1 this year to reduce a glut of oil in storage and lift prices and despite November’s announcement, it continued to hold broader curtailments in place to maintain production at levels not exceeding the export pipelines capacity.
The company also said it expects free cash flow of about CA$4.8 billion (US$3.5 billion) in 2020, and said it plans to spend about CA$2.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) to buy back shares.
The discoveries include conventional oil found near the Burgan oil field.
The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose 3 to 351 in the week to Dec. 30, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co. said in its closely followed report.
The federal agency also said about 19%, or 123 production platforms, and one exploration rig remained evacuated in the northern GoM.