ERCB lowers oil sands production forecast

In its June report on Alberta's 2008 reserves and supply-demand outlook for 2009-18, Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) lowered its forecast of bitumen production to 2.7 million b/d in 2018.

Guntis Moritis
OGJ Production Editor

HOUSTON, June 17 -- In its June report on Alberta's 2008 reserves and supply-demand outlook for 2009-18, Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) lowered its forecast of bitumen production to 2.7 million b/d in 2018. Last year's report showed production reaching 3.2 million b/d in 2017.

The 2.7 million b/d is still a large increase from the 1.3 million b/d produced from oil sands in 2008.

The 2008 production was 1% less than in 2007. ERCB's report says production from in situ projects increased 9% while production from mining projects because of planned and unplanned maintenance decreased by 8%.

The report notes that in 2008, the upgrading of 264 million bbl of mined bitumen and about 8% of the 213 million bbl from in situ projects yielded 239 million bbl of synthetic crude oil (SCO).

Its oil sands resource estimates at yearend 2008 are:

-- Initial in place, 1,731 billion bbl.

-- Initial established, 177 billion bbl.

-- Cumulative production, 6.4 billion bbl.

-- Remaining established, 170 billion bbl.

-- 2008 production, 0.477 billion bbl (1.3 million b/d).

-- Ultimate potential, 315 billion bbl.

The report reduced the established reserves in Peace River but increase by 14.5 townships the area suitable for mining in the Athabasca region, resulting in a 1.9 billion bbl decrease in initial established reserves.

Of the 170 billion bbl remaining established reserves, ERCB considers 80%, or 135 billion bbl recoverable with in situ methods and the remaining 34 billion bbl recoverable with surface mining methods.

The in situ volumes include production with enhanced recovery methods, such as injection of steam, water, or other solvents into the reservoir to mobilize the bitumen, as well as bitumen and heavy oil produced with primary methods from the Athabasca, Peace River, and Cold Lake regions.

In 2008, average production from the three oil sands areas was:

-- Athabasca, 721,500 b/d mined, 232,100 b/d in situ.

-- Cold Lake, 310,700 b/d in situ.

-- Peace River, 42,000 b/d in situ.

The reports says companies drilled 4,627 wells in the oil sands in 2008. Of these, 1,209 were development wells and 3,428 were exploratory wells.

About 9,700 wells were on production in the oil sands during 2008, with the average well producing 62 bo/d, according to the report.

Contact Guntis Moritis at guntism@ogjonline.com.

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