Canada's Alberta to deliver austere budget March 7

CALGARY, Alberta Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:42pm EST

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CALGARY, Alberta Jan 15 (Reuters) - The government of Alberta, which has warned about the impact on public coffers of deeply discounted Canadian oil prices, said on Tuesday it will deliver what is expected to be a miserly budget for the country's top energy-producing province on March 7.

Premier Alison Redford's Progressive Conservatives have said weak prices for heavy crude from the Western province's vast oil sands may prevent a return to a hoped-for surplus in the upcoming fiscal year, and that all of Alberta's government departments will have to look for ways to reduce spending.

However, Redford also said this week that deep, across-the-board spending cuts are not in the offing.

Heavy crude has recently sold for more than $40 a barrel under benchmark West Texas Intermediate, due to limited pipeline capacity to move the supplies to the United States as well as delays to a U.S. refinery project that would boost demand for the Alberta oil.

For the current budget year, the government has warned that the deficit could be triple the initial estimate of C$886 million ($901 million).

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