From Financial Post

OTTAWA — The value of Canadian energy exports surged in May even as the industry was coping with a major Alberta wildfire, but improved oil sales were not enough to prevent the second biggest trade deficit on record, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

The $3.28 billion deficit, the 21st in a row, was much larger than the $2.70 billion shortfall predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll. The record high was the revised $3.32 billion seen in April.

Exports fell by 0.7 per cent as eight of 11 sub sectors declined, reflecting the Canadian economy’s continued challenges as it tries to adjust to the prolonged and complex effects of an oil price slump.

Yet even as wildfires in the energy-producing province of Alberta forced the shutdown of several oilsands projects, higher prices helped the value of energy exports rise by 7.1 per cent, the highest month-on-month advance since May 2014. The value of exports of crude oil and crude bitumen surged 10.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada said early evidence indicated that Canadian refinery activity declined in May, freeing up crude oil supply for export. It said the remaining shortfall was largely met by a drawdown of Alberta inventories.

“It’s almost counter-intuitive. It’s not what we were expecting to see at all,” said Peter Hall, chief economist at Export Development Canada.

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