CNRL boss welcomes Prime Minister Trudeau's approach to tackling climate change

CALGARY – The president of one of Canada’s biggest oil and gas companies says he welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approach to tackling climate change.

Steve Laut of Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) says he particularly likes the Liberal government’s plan to work with the provinces to lower emissions.

Alberta is in the midst of reviewing its broader climate change strategy, with the goal of having something ready in time for the UN climate talks in Paris coming up in a few weeks.

Laut says he’s heard good things about new Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

He also says the decision to add “climate change” to the environment minister’s title just shows how important the issue is — a notion he supports.

Some have argued if Canada takes a tougher approach to climate change, it may smooth the way for new pipelines that would help producers access new markets and get a better price for their oil.

Laut said that approach may help, but it’s no silver bullet.

In addition to carbon, First Nations and landowner concerns, as well as worries over marine safety, must be addressed, he said.

“It’s a complex issue,” he said. “It probably will help, but I don’t know if it will solve all ills.”

Also Thursday, Canadian Natural Resources said next year’s capital budget is expected to come in at between $4.5 billion and $5 billion.

This year’s spending, after a handful of downward revisions, is expected to come in at about $5.4 billion.

About half of next year’s capital budget will be allocated to the Horizon oilsands expansion. Horizon’s 2016 budget will be about $2.1 billion, falling to around $1.2 billion in 2017 as the expansion to an eventual production rate of 250,000 barrels a day is completed.

The company said its adjusted net earnings for the quarter, which strip out the impacts of some unusual items, were $113 million, down from $312 million a year earlier.

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