The economics of financial securities for environmental obligations and their impact in royalty revenues from Alberta oil sands in North America
Fariz Ariz oghlu Guliyev, MBA in Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, University of Alberta BS in Economics, Azerbaijan State University of Economics
Abstract. The use of natural resources comes with dramatic responsibilities for producers and resource owners. According to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources Development mining companies must plan for suspension, abandonment, remediation and surface reclamation of the territory they utilise. These companies, also known as Approval Holders, have choices as to which security types to use in order to satisfy their environmental liabilities. These choices have material impact in determining annual royalty and tax revenues collected by the government. Royalty regulation in Alberta allows Approval Holders to deduct their annual costs from revenues. QETs (Qualifying Environmental Trusts), unlike Letters of Credit, are allowed for such deductions. As a result, when used by Approval Holders QETs shrink the royalty revenue materially, since its full value is tax and royalty deductible. However, Approval Holders cannot deduct QETs from taxable income if the mine field is no longer recoverable and the production of bitumen has stopped permanently. As time horizon of existing mine fields in Oil Sands shrinks and future commodity prices stay uncertain we expect that Approval Holders will make a quick use of QETs to reduce their taxable income in the near future. In this paper, we explain why oil sands operators have not used QETs as financial securities and which uncertainties should play critical roles in identifying negative revenue impacts. This report gives an analysis of such differences and suggests possible ways to avoid royalty revenue reductions from Oil Sands mine fields.
the economics of financial security, qualifying environmental trust, letters of credit, royalty revenue, west texas intermediate.
JEL Classification codes:
Q51, Q52, B41