Alberta’s energy resource reserves are among the world’s largest and include bitumen, crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids, and coal.
Topping this list is bitumen from the province’s oil sands deposits, with remaining established reserves at 165 billion barrels in 2015, truly a world-class resource. To put things in perspective, 11 billion barrels of bitumen have been extracted since the late 1960s.
At 923 million barrels (or 2.5 million barrels per day), raw crude bitumen production accounted for 83 per cent of Alberta’s total crude oil and bitumen production in 2015. Bitumen production in 2015 increased by 12 per cent for mining projects and by 8 per cent for in situ projects, resulting in an overall raw bitumen production increase of about 10 per cent over 2014.
Of the total bitumen production, 44.6 per cent was used as feedstock for upgraders, yielding 976 thousand barrels per day of upgraded production. Alberta refineries processed 301 thousand barrels per day of upgraded bitumen and 25 thousand barrels per day of nonupgraded bitumen.
In Alberta, crude oil production decreased by 11 per cent in 2015. Conventional natural gas reserves were 29 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2015, while total production was 3.6 Tcf. Natural gas liquids (NGLs) production increased by 5 per cent in 2015.
In 2015, our remaining established reserves of coal remained unchanged at 37 billion tons, while only 30 million tons of marketable coal was produced.
A study conducted by the regulator in 2012 estimated that the hydrocarbon resources from shale are estimated to be a very large and important potential energy supply for Alberta and the world. Best estimates put the in-place resource at 3424 Tcf of gas, 58.6 billion barrels of NGLs, and 423.6 billion barrels of crude oil.
Alberta’s energy resources significantly contribute to both Alberta’s and Canada’s economies. In 2015, the value of our energy resource production was $67 billion. Amid the current low crude oil and natural gas price environment, the contribution of energy resources to Alberta’s economy is expected to be lower in 2016. However, the AER forecasts that after 2016, the value of energy commodities will rebound to higher levels with the return of stronger oil and natural gas prices.