Large gain seen in Alberta oil production

Bitumen will claim an increased share of sharply higher oil production in Alberta over the next 10 years, according to the provincial Energy Resources Conservation Board.

In an annual outlook, ERCB projects an increase in supply of crude oil and equivalent to 4.2 million b/d in 2022 from 2.5 million b/d in 2012. The amounts include nonupgraded bitumen, upgraded bitumen, pentanes-plus, heavy oil, and light and medium crude oil.

The bitumen share of total supply will increase to 87% in 2022 from about 73% in 2012, ERCB forecasts. The agency slightly lowered its estimate of Alberta’s in situ and mineable crude bitumen to 167.9 billion bbl to account for production. It estimates reserves of conventional crude oil at 1.7 billion bbl.

In 2012, bitumen production from in situ projects exceeded that from mines for the first time. The trend is expected to continue.

The ERCB expects bitumen production to increase from 1.9 million b/d in 2012—52% in situ—to 3.8 million b/d in 2022—58% in situ. It expects shipments outside of Alberta to slip to 76% from 81% of total production in the forecast period because of declines expected in light-medium and heavy oil.

Natural gas production, according to the report, will fall to about 210 million cu m/day (MMcmd) in 2022 from 304.7 MMcmd in 2012, which was down 5.6% from the 2011 rate.

The ERCB estimates Alberta’s conventional gas reserves as of yearend 2012 at 916 billion cu m, down slightly from the 2011 estimate. It estimates remaining established reserves of coalbed methane at 56.7 billion cu m, also down slightly, out of initial established reserves of 101.3 billion cu m.

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