This article is the second in a two-part series on how Canada’s energy industry is being impacted by OPEC’s price war.
It has been a long and arduous year for many of Canada’s energy companies. OPEC’s quota policies have had the effect of flooding the global market with cheap oil, making it harder for high-cost extractors such as Canada and the United States to compete with low-cost suppliers from the Middle East. As a result, Canadian energy companies have been doing everything possible to batten down the hatches and wait out the storm of low energy prices. This has included slashing capital expenditure budgets, cutting labor costs, and selling off assets to keep debt levels down and assure would-be lenders. And though at the dawn of a new year there’s still no end to the pain in sight – Canada’s energy companies have a lot of fight left in them.
Suncor is Canada’s largest energy company by market capitalization, and it has largely been able to avoid getting caught up in the carnage of OPEC’s price war thanks to its diversified operations and strong balance sheet going into 2015. In fact, the company has been positioning itself to benefit from the sea of red ink in Canada’s energy heartland by pushing through a $4.5 billion hostile takeover of Canada Oil Stands Ltd., a smaller player that is heavily leveraged and struggling in the low-price environment. Such was Suncor’s success in avoiding the pitfalls that swallowed up some of its competitors that the Globe and Mail’s business magazine recently named CEO Steve Williams as CEO of the Year.