Canada’s four biggest fossil companies took home more than C$12.3 billion in profit between April and June of this year, thanks to an oil price surge driven largely by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The big financial win for Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy, and Imperial Oil was almost exactly three times as much as they made over the same three months last year, Toronto-based Environmental Defence Canada says in a statement this week.
These are the same companies that have been lining up to dismiss the federal government’s new emissions cap for their sector as “very aggressive” and “almost unrealistic”, despite an offer of (continuing) flexibility and an extended deadline from Environment and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault.
In late April, with his company reporting $1.6 billion in first-quarter profits—almost 7½ times its take for the first three months of 2021—Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix said a generous federal tax credit for carbon capture and storage technology wouldn’t be enough to get companies to invest their own dollars in large-scale projects. The tax credit is set up to deliver an estimated $2.6 billion over the next five years, then $1.5 billion per year until 2030.
Not long after Pourbaix’ statement, Guilbeault countered that Canadian fossils are making record profits and should be investing some of that surplus to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.
“We won’t be putting even more and more money on the table,” Guilbeault told The Canadian Press. “They have to invest as well.”
In its release this week, Environmental Defence says fossils are “asking for more time and/or more subsidies to reduce emissions” after “years of promises” to get the job done.
“While communities are experiencing the climate crisis first hand, with heat waves and wildfires raging across the globe, Canada’s biggest oil and gas companies say they can’t even meet the federal government’s modest 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets,” said Programs Director Keith Brooks. “It is unacceptable that these same wealthy companies continue to block climate action and lobby for even more subsidies, on top of the billions they already receive.”
Late Wednesday, Edmonton-based ATB Economics reported that Canadian oil and gas extraction hit a record 3.6 million barrels per day in the first six months of this year, up slightly from 3.5 million barrels in the first half of 2021, and drastically from about 2.3 million a decade ago.