Investment in Canada's oil and gas industry is expected to drop by about $50 billion by the end of 2016—the largest decline since oil and gas lobbies started tracking the data.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and its predecessor organizations have kept tabs on investment data since 1947.
As a result of lower investment, the total number of wells drilled in Western Canada is forecast to decline to 3,500 wells in 2016, a 66 per cent drop from the 10,400 wells drilled in 2014, CAPP says.
CAPP President and CEO Tim McMillan said in a release Thursday that urgent action is needed for Canada to remain competitive and attractive market for fossil fuel investment.
This includes the "timely expansion" of the country's pipeline network and the development of liquefied natural gas export facilities proposed for the B.C. coast that would take gas from the shale plays in the Northeast.
B.C. accounts for around 15 per cent of all oil and gas investment in the country, according to the latest provincial budget.
"Times are tough today in Canada's oil and natural gas sector," McMillan said in a release. "Canada has the energy the world needs, and we can and should take action now... to ensure Canada competes globally and becomes the supplier of choice to world markets."
McMillan warns that the United States is not standing still when it comes to developing the means to export fossil fuels to world markets—including the recent completion of an LNG facility in Louisiana.
Declining oil and gas activity has had a large impact on Northeast B.C., with unemployment steadily rising over the last six months to 9.2 per cent.
"Connecting our resources—by all means and in all directions—to more markets is critically important to improve the prosperity of all Canadians, even with the current declines in prices and investment," McMillan said.