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Alberta warns deficit could be higher than budgeted

Alberta's budget shortfall could hit $3 billion this year, more than three times its initial estimate, if weaker-than-expected energy revenues keep pressuring the finances in the country's biggest oil-producing province, the government said on Thursday.

In a first-quarter update, Finance Minister Doug Horner said revenue decreased $400 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012-13, due mostly to lower royalties from oil sands and conventional oil production and revenues from government lease sales.

Horner said the deficit could be $2.3 billion to $3 billion, compared with the initial budget deficit estimate of $886 million, based on results so far this year.

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