It’s time for another edition of our weekly column from the A-Team. Here is some important news for the week.

As announced last month, government-mandated oil production cuts took place this week, keeping prices at the stronger position they’ve been hovering around since the announcement:

Western Canada oil prices remain strong as Alberta production cutbacks kick in

The difference between Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend heavy oil and New York-traded West Texas Intermediate oil prices was about US$12.50 per barrel on Wednesday afternoon, according to Calgary oil brokerage Net Energy, an improvement over the US$17.52 per barrel average for spot contracts for January delivery signed last month.

The WCS-WTI discount peaked at more than US$52 a barrel in October, a level at which the province estimated it was costing the Canadian economy more than $80 million per day.

But it recovered to traditional norms in the mid-teens or better after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced Dec. 2 that the province would impose curtailments of 325,000 barrels per day as of Jan. 1 to relieve a glut of oil in Western Canada and free up export pipeline space. Via fortmcmurraytoday.com

The program is intended to cut 8.7% of production from the market, affecting 25 companies, each of which produces 10,000 barrels per day.

Following the death of 31 great blue herons in a Syncrude owned sump at Mildred Lake in 2015, the company was fined $2.75 million this week:

Syncrude Fined $2.75M For Deaths Of 31 Great Blue Herons In 2015

On Wednesday, the company came to an agreement with federal and provincial Crown prosecutors pleading guilty to the charges related to the incident in August 2015.

“Our organization is saddened by this incident because we don’t want our operations to adversely affect wildlife,” said Managing Director Doreen Cole. “Coming to an agreement with the Crown reflects our remorse about this regrettable incident.”

The company was first charged by Alberta Energy Regulator in August 2017 with one count of failing to store a hazardous substance in a manner ensuring it does not come into direct contact with, or contaminate animals. Via mix1037fm.com

After the deaths of thousands of ducks in 2008 at a tailing pond, the company implemented a protection plan for waterfowl, which expanded to include sumps in 2017.

In employment news, the province lost almost 36,000 fulltime jobs, which was only partially offset by increases in part-time employment:

Province hit by job losses in December

Nearly 17,000 jobs were lost last month according to Statistics Canada.

Despite an increase in part-time work, it was overshadowed by a loss of 36,000 full-time positions.

However, overall the employment picture in the province in 2018 improved slightly, rising about one per cent, or 21,000 jobs. Via mymcmurray.com

National unemployment is the lowest it’s been since 1976, currently sitting at 7.6%.

That’s all for this weeks’ roundup. Check back on The A-Team blog for more news and updates on Fort McMurray.