Furey promotes N.L. oil as Russian invasion drives up fuel prices

The N.L. premier says oil from the province's offshore industry is an alternative to Russian fossil fuels.

N.L. premier says province's offshore industry is an alternative to Russian fossil fuels

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says his government is promoting the province's oil to NATO countries, as the war in Ukraine rages. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Asked by reporters Wednesday about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Premier Andrew Furey stopped just short of calling it an opportunity. 

But he did say his government is pushing Newfoundland and Labrador oil as an alternative to Russian fossil fuels. 

"We have right here what the world needs as well, and that is to relieve some of our NATO partners of the tyranny of Russia and their stranglehold on the energy around the world," he said, when asked about the provincial government's efforts regarding the war.

Furey said they're not trying to capitalize on what he noted is a humanitarian crisis, but did say his government is "making sure that our voice is heard internally and externally" with regard to the province's offshore oil industry.

He also said the province will welcome Ukrainian refugees, and stands with its NATO allies.

As the seventh day of the war in Ukraine began Wednesday, Russian forces intensified their attacks on major urban areas, including the capital, Kyiv, as well as the strategic port cities of Odesa and Mariupol in the south. Amid the fighting, the humanitarian situation worsened. More than 874,000 people have fled Ukraine in search of safety in neighbouring countries, a UN refugee agency spokesperson told CBC News on Wednesday. 

Russia is the world's third-largest oil producer and a key supplier to Europe.

Its invasion of Ukraine has sent oil prices soaring, and the price of West Texas Intermediate hit $111 a barrel Wednesday, its highest price in eight years.

While Canada is banning Russian oil imports, other NATO countries have not included the fuel in sanctions.

Gas prices hit new record

Furey's comments came the day before fuel prices in Newfoundland and Labrador took another leap.

Gas prices jumped 4.5 cents per litre Thursday — to a new record high — while diesel rose 5.4 cents, and furnace oil climbed about 3.6 cents.

The Opposition PC Party to call for the N.L. government to take action on the rising cost of fuel.

In a media release, PC MHA Tony Wakeham — citing the war in Ukraine — said Finance Minister Siobhan Coady "should be working to mitigate the ripple effects of this conflict here at home."

"There is a great risk the prices of fuels, gasoline and home heating fuel, and the price of goods will increase again," he said in the release.

PC MHA Tony Wakeham says his party wants the Furey government to take action on gas prices. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Wakeham said his party wants gas taxes reduced, and the money coming from higher oil prices to be used to subsidize food for low-income families. 

Furey said Coady is looking at the gas tax while preparing the upcoming provincial budget.

"We realize the cost of living is having an incredible impact on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and we're trying our best to consider that," he said.

Prices keep rising

Dan McTeague, president of the group Canadians for Affordable Energy, said Thursday's price jump is relatively minor compared with what's likely to come next week, when the full impact of rising oil prices will hit consumers. 

McTeague expects oil prices to continue rising, and the price of gas to top $1.80 per litre on the Avalon Peninsula mark. 

"It's likely to increase perhaps another $10 a barrel between now and the next couple of weeks should this go on," he said. "So, it's a bad situation but the war has made the bad situation that much worse."

Oil industry analyst Dan McTeague expects fuel prices to continue climbing in Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

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