Canada's Oil Sands
 
With an estimated initial volume in-place of approximately 1.8 trillion barrels of crude bitumen, Canada's oil sands are one of the world's largest hydrocarbon deposits. When the Oil and Gas Journal released its estimates of global proved petroleum reserves at year-end 2002, it increased Canada's proved oil reserves to 180 billion barrels compared to 4.9 billion barrels the previous year. This almost forty-fold increase catapulted Canada into second position for total oil reserves at year-end 2002 behind only Saudi Arabia, and cut the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC's) share of world oil reserves by more than 10 percent.
 
The oil sands are located in three distinct areas in Northern Alberta: the largest Oil Sands Area is Athabasca, the second largest is Cold Lake, and the smallest is Peace River. There are 15 Oil Sands Deposits within the three Oil Sands Areas. The three Oils Sands Areas and the major Oil Sands Deposits within each OSA are shown in the following figure.
 
Alberta's Oil Sands Areas
 
Source: Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board
 
The oil sands industry produced 1,744 thousand barrels per day (kb/d) of crude bitumen in 2011, 892 kb/d from surface mining and 852 kb/d from in situ projects (Source: ERCB Report ST98-2012). A large portion of Alberta's bitumen production is upgraded to synthetic crude oil (including other products). After upgrading, supply of synthetic crude oil and non-upgraded crude bitumen totalled 1,625 kb/d in 2011 (863 kb/d of synthetic crude oil and 762 kb/d of non-upgraded crude bitumen).
 
The 2008/2009 financial crisis had a significant impact on Canada's oil sands industry. Many proposed projects were deferred, others were cancelled. While industry activity has resumed, the growth rate will depend on global economic growth, oil prices and how industry and government address the many challenges the industry faces. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) release comprehensive oil sands industry outlooks in June of each year. Their most recent outlooks project that: Alberta bitumen production will more than double by 2020, from 1.744 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2011 to about 3.4-3.6 mb/d; bitumen production from in situ projects will surpass bitumen production from mining projects within the next few years; and, the percentage of bitumen that is upgraded before it leaves Alberta will decline - i.e., there will be limited investment in new upgrading capacity. The most recent CAPP and ERCB outlooks are available for download in the next section of this webpage.
 
Canada's Oil Sands Industry
An overview of the Canadian oil sands industry including the latest resource and reserves estimates, up-to-date production statistics and a high-level description of industry technologies may be downloaded by clicking on the following link.
Canada's Oil Sands; Strategy West Inc.; November 2012 (PDF 0.6MB)
 
Other Oil Sands Industry Reports
Several organizations publish reports on oil sands resources and reserves, industry outlooks and industry issues. Key reports are included here for your convenience and are available for download by clicking on the following links. Please refer to the referenced organizations' websites for more information.
 
Oil Sands Technology Roadmap; Unlocking the Potential; Alberta Chamber of Resources; January 2004 (PDF 1.6MB)
 
Alberta's Energy Reserves 2011 and Supply/Demand Outlook 2012-2021; Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board; June 2012 (PDF 10.2MB)
 
Crude Oil Forecast, Markets & Pipelines; Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers; June 2012 (PDF 3.2MB)
 
Lines in the Sands; Oil Sands Sector Benchmarking; The Ethical Funds Company; November 2009 (PDF 1.3MB)
Sustainability Perspectives; Unconventional Risks, An Investor Response to Canada's Oil Sands; The Ethical Funds Company; October 2008 (PDF 0.5MB)
 
Canada's Energy Future; Infrastructure Changes and Challenges to 2020; An Energy Market Assessment; National Energy Board; October 2009 (PDF 4.4MB)
Canadian Energy Demand and Supply to 2020; 2009 Reference Case Scenario; An Energy Market Assessment; National Energy Board; July 2009 (PDF 2.9MB)
Canadian Energy Demand and Supply to 2020; 2009 Reference Case Scenario Appendices; An Energy Market Assessment; National Energy Board; July 2009 (PDF 1.9MB)
 
Oil Sands: Forecast Update; Oil Sands Developers Group, March 2009 (PDF 0.7MB)
Oil Sands Facts; Oil Sands Developers Group, January 2009 (PDF 0.1MB)
The Facts on Oil Sands Reclamation; Oil Sands Developers Group, July 2008 (PDF 1.5MB)
 
Tailings Plan Review; An Assessment of Oil Sands Company Submissions for Compliance with ERCB Directive 074: Tailings Performance Criteria and Requirements for Oil Sands Mining Schemes; The Pembina Institute, December 2009 (PDF 0.6MB)
Oil Sands Myths; Clearing the Air; The Pembina Institute, June 2009 (PDF 1.1MB)
Upgrader Alley; Oil Sands Fever Strikes Edmonton; The Pembina Institute; June 2008 (PDF 3.9MB)
Fact or Fiction?; Oil Sands Reclamation; The Pembina Institute; May 2008 (PDF 2.4MB)
Under-Mining the Environment; The Oil Sands Report Card; The Pembina Institute; January 2008 (PDF 3.1MB)