Alberta projects 2,700 successful oil wells during 2001

The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board has reported that increased drilling activity helped slow the province's production decline from 11% in 1999 to 2% in 2000. It predicted operators would drill 2,700 successful oil wells this year and next, leveling to about 2,500/year until 2010.


By the OGJ Online Staff

CALGARY, June 29 -- The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) has reported that increased drilling activity helped slow the province's production decline from 11% in 1999 to 2% in 2000.

In its annual report, EUB said higher prices created some momentum in crude oil drilling activity. Production of conventional crude was 274 million bbl and the number of successful oil wells increased 65%, from 1,630 in 1999, to 2,700 in last year.

EUB said continuing strong oil prices should result in 2,700 successful oil wells this year and next, leveling to about 2,500 wells/year until 2010.

It said 206 million bbl of reserves were added in 2000, bringing the total to 1.8 billion bbl, a 3.4% drop from 1999 but a smaller decline than the year before. EUB said ultimate potential recoverable reserves were 19.7 billion bbl and future technological improvements should improve the recovery rate to 27%.

EUB said Alberta's 2000 production from conventional oil, oil sands sources, and pentanes plus was 1.52 million b/d, about the same as 1999. It is expected to increase 71% to 2.6 million b/d by 2010.

"A comparison of conventional oil production and bitumen production over the last 10 years clearly shows a trend towards a larger percentage from bitumen. This ability to shift from conventional oil to bitumen sources is unique to Alberta, allowing the province to offset the expected decline in conventional oil with bitumen production."

EUB estimated production of bitumen would triple by 2010, accounting for as much as 70% of Alberta's oil supply.

Alberta has the largest oil sands resource in the world with 315 billion bbl considered potentially recoverable under anticipated technology and economic conditions. Only 1% of the ultimately recoverable crude bitumen resource has been produced.

Bitumen production in 2000 was 245 million bbl, 138 million from mining and 107 million from in situ projects.

Gas resources were estimated at 98 tcf, not including coalbed methane and tight gas. At the end of 2000, conventional reserves were 43 tcf.

Alberta produced 5 tcf in 2000. Operators drilled 8,228 successful gas wells, a 37% increase over the 6,015 drilled in 1999. They replaced 90% of production last year.

"While Alberta's gas development has typically centered on shallow gas in southeastern Alberta, exploration is expected to expand in the western portion of the province. Improved cash flow will fuel investment in exploration and increase drilling. An estimate of some 10,000 successful wells/year is expected over the forecast period."

EUB said the supply of ethane, propane, and butane is expected to meet demand over the forecast period but a shortage of pentanes plus as a diluent for heavy oil and non-upgraded bitumen is expected by 2005.

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