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OPEC meets Alberta energy minister whose ‘forgotten more than most people know’

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In a time of utter uncertainty for Canadian oil and gas, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage’s presence on Thursday’s video call with OPEC, its allies, and non-OPEC nations, is a source of comfort for leaders in the industry.

Savage is representing the interests of the Canadian energy patch in the historic talks hosted by the Saudi-led cartel that will also include the United States, the world’s largest oil producer. 

Jeff Tonken, chief executive officer of Calgary-based Birchcliff Energy (BIR.TO), is convinced Canada sent in its strongest player to the unprecedented meeting of energy producing nations. He said that was the consensus among his peers at this week's Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), where Savage spoke on Wednesday.

“She’s the person that we want at the table,” he told Yahoo Finance Canada. “She understands more about pipelines and the issues of oil and gas production, and has forgotten more than most people know.”

Savage has deep roots in Canadian energy. Her resume prior to politics includes a senior role at the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, and a nine-year stint at Enbridge (ENB.TO)(ENB) where she was responsible for government affairs and regulatory policy. She published a thesis on the National Energy Board while pursuing her Masters of Law in Environment and Energy at the University of Calgary.

Oil prices (CL=F) climbed on Thursday on reports that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed on the outline of a deal to cut oil production. Key details have yet to be confirmed, such as a baseline to measure the cuts against. Russia is also reportedly insisting that a deal hinges on reduced U.S. production. 

Canadian and U.S. participation in the new production cuts being discussed has not been confirmed. On Wednesday, Canadian Natural Resources’ (CNQ.TO)(CNQ) president supported the idea of Canada taking part in an international agreement to reduce production to support global oil prices.

“We supported curtailments here in Alberta to help balance the market when you have these issues,” Tim McKay told the web-based CAPP conference. “To me, as long as it’s a broad-based approach, we could support it.”

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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