Underscoring Goldman Sachs forecast last week of oil prices at or below $50 per bbl until at least 2020, Bloomberg News is today reporting that Iraq is preparing to unleash a flood of new oil within the next few months. This is very bad news for the price of Western Canadian Select bitumen, and Alberta oil sands producers. Saudi Arabia’s strategy, together with OPEC, to squeeze high-cost oil producers of oil sands and shale seems to be working. More pessimistic forecasts of WCS at $25 for an extended period now appear more plausible.


Those following international events have probably already seen the stories on Putin’s Russia, and the combined impact international economic sanctions, and now, the unexpected and unwelcome plummet in World oil prices. The Russian economy in 2015 will likely see a budget deficit of $20 Billion or more as the ruble collapses and oil prices plummet. The problem is global and expected by analysts to persist for the foreseeable future. Lesser developed countries like Venezuela and Nigeria, which are more dependent on their oil economies, are expected to see even greater impacts. Economists commonly refer to this as the “natural resource curse.”


We are all now hearing and reading about Edward Snowden, who is now at the center of a global political firestorm, caused by Snowden’s decision to reveal the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, and its increasing encroachment of personal privacy. Snowden’s revelations have now also entangled the UK’s GCHQ, the secret intelligence gathering arm of MI6 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire which has also been sharing similar snooping with the NSA. A former U.S. National Security Administration contractor, Snowden was actually employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a global management consultancy firm. Snowden’s situation should give us all pause to consider the Brave New World we have entered with zettabytes (1 Million Terabytes) of Big Data, and the uses of it.


The Canadian media (CBC, Globe & Mail, Canadian Business) have been buzzing with analyses of Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s pronouncement last month that the “Bitumen Bubble,” is now crashing down on the Alberta economy, and potentially the entire Canadian economy. The Alberta budget released last Thursday, March 7, acknowledged a $6.2 Billion deficit from this year, and “even larger declines in the next several years,” due to forecasts for significant price decreases for “Western Canada Select” (WCS), the market term for Alberta oil sands oil. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty echoed the impact of reduced oil sands revenue on the federal budget, by warning of significant cutbacks in federal spending as well. The impact of this sudden change in the prospects for the Canadian petroleum industry and for government oil tax revenues, will likely also have serious implications for the BC economy, jobs growth, business investment, consumer spending: essentially the Canadian economy as a whole will suffer.