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by Stockwatch Business Reporter
West Texas Intermediate crude for September delivery lost $1.35 to $39.92 on the New York Merc, while Brent for September lost 81 cents to $42.94 (all figures in this para U.S.). Western Canadian Select traded at a discount of $10.15 to WTI, unchanged. Natural gas for September lost two cents to $1.83. The TSX energy index lost 1.68 points to close at 76.58.
Amid an already difficult quarterly reporting season -- the second quarter having borne the brunt of the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic -- the oil patch had to contend with an extra dose of embarrassment, courtesy of one of its largest foreign visitors. France's Total has announced that it is writing off $9.3-billion worth oil sands assets in Alberta as it considers them "stranded." It explained that it is assigning this description to high-cost reserves that may not be produced before 2050 in light of its internal carbon-reduction targets.
A major writedown is not in itself unusual; the biggest part of Total's writedown ($7.3-billion) comes from its interest in the Fort Hills oil sands mine, which operator Suncor Energy Inc. (SU: $21.79) wrote down by nearly $1.4-billion in the first quarter. In addition, Total has been retreating slowly from the oil sands for a few years now, most recently selling the non-producing Joslyn project to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ: $24.08) in late 2018. Yet Total has now gone a step further It put on a headline-grabbing performance as it announced its withdrawal from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) while puffing about "misalignment" between CAPP's beliefs and Total's "climate ambition."
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