Alberta plans forecasting summit this summer
CALGARY - Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner says he wants to hear from experts at a summit this summer about how best to predict energy prices for future budgets.
The province's Progressive Conservative government has pegged much of its current revenue shortfall on what it called the "bitumen bubble" — a weakening in Alberta oil prices against the U.S. benchmark because of constraints in getting the crude to the most lucrative markets.
Horner has said the effects of the bottleneck have hit provincial coffers more quickly and severely than anyone could have predicted.
The provincial budget released Thursday — which includes an operating deficit of $2 billion, plus $4.3 billion in infrastructure borrowing — is based on oilsands crude prices of US$68.21 per barrel, about three-quarters of the predicted U.S. benchmark price.
Calgary Chamber of Commerce chief economist Ben Brunnen says the group has suggested the province create an independent budget officer to add objectivity and credibility to government forecasts and financial analysis.
The chamber took a generally positive view toward the budget, saying that it's good for businesses.