OTTAWA (CP) -- Draft legislation giving the federal cabinet the power to set oil and natural gas export prices without public hearings and enabling it to give PETRO-CANADA another $4 billion was tabled Monday in the Commons.
The sweeping new energy security act would strip the NATIONAL ENERGY BOARD of its power to hold hearings and recommend export prices for cabinet approval. However, the board would retain its power to rule on matters related to supply and could be asked by the federal energy minister to provide advice on export prices.
Under the bill, state owned Petro -Canada's authorized capitalization would be increased to $5.5 billion from $1.5 billion. "Without such an increase, PetroCanada would be unable to play its full role in achieving the national energy program's goal of increasing Canadian ownership and control of the energy industry, while increasing energy supply", the government said in background documents released Monday.
The draft legislation, approved by cabinet, was tabled at this tine to enable the government to get public reaction before the bill is formally presented, likely in the fall.
The omnibus act, intended to implement the parts of the national energy program not covered by previous bills, would set out rules for new exploration grants to Canadian-owned firms and establish an agency to monitor the oil and natural gas industry.
There was no immediate clarification of the possible effect of the bill's suggestion that the federal cabinet unilaterally determine future export prices.
But the legislation also aims at encouraging the Canadianization of the resource industries by empowering the energy board, when considering the question of energy supply, to take into account the degree of participation by Canadianowned companies in the production of the oil and gas to be exported.
Likewise, details of the Extra $4 billion in authorized capital for PetroCanada were unclear but a company spokesman said it means Ottawa would be free to pour the extra money into the company, which is not allowed to borrow on capital markets.