The province’s finances have taken a $369-million hit, mostly a result of a this summer’s shutdown of the Hibernia oil platform, Finance Minister Tom Osborne announced in the fall fiscal update on Wednesday.
The government had projected a paper surplus of $1.92 billion on Budget Day because of new Hibernia dividend money from Ottawa. Without that new money, the projected deficit would have been $575 million. Now the paper surplus has been revised down to $1.56 billion, and the corresponding deficit has been revised up to $944 million.
The Hibernia shutdown, which happened because of oil spills in July and August, accounted for $185 million of the lost revenue. Other factors include lower than projected oil prices, which are down from $65 to $63 a barrel U.S, and lower tax estimates from the federal government.
Borrowing requirements this year remain at $1.2 billion, while the net debt is expected to be $13.95 billion by the end of the fiscal year.
The fall fiscal update did not include any long-term projections for the provincial deficit. Osborne says he has not given up on returning to balanced budget by 2022-23, but he admits there are “challenges”.