free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 287. ALBERTA OIL SANDS COMING ON STRONG

Sunday, April 16, 2006


A new report by CIBC World Markets in Toronto has some interesting data on the Alberta Oil Sands. Some highlights:
  • By the end of the decade, oil sands will be the leading factor in supply growth, surpassing both conventional oil and deepwater.
  • Alberta will be the world leader in adding new oil production in the next decade, surpassing Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Angola, Nigeria, Mexico, UAE and the USA.
  • Annual additions to oil sand capacity will increase sharply in the next 5 years: 150,000 bpd in 2006/2007, 300,000bpd in 2008, 400,000bpd in 2009, 500,000 in 2010.
  • In the period 2006-2008, 58% of new capacity will come from non-conventional oil (47% deepwater, 5% Canadian oil sands, 3% gas liquids, 3% other heavy). By 2010, non-conventional (oil sands, deepwater, gas liquids) will account for about 25% of all oil production. (And that still doesn't take into account the other elements of the non-conventional spectrum: ethanol, biodiesel, CTL and GTL.)
  • The report also has a detailed list of new Canadian oil sands projects which are scheduled to come on stream.
It's not really clear where this scale-up is going to end. ASPO seems to think that heavy oil production will top out at 4mbd and continue at that level until 2050 (source: ASPO Newsletter, April 2006):
However, it's not clear why that should be true. The area of the tar sands is vast -- 54,000 square miles, roughly the size of Florida. So there's plenty of room for everybody. True, there may be limitations on natural gas, but we've already seen one compelling work around: nuking the tar sands. In fact this seems to be the idea that wouldn't die. From an April 13, 2006 article in the Calgary Sun:
The province's first nuclear power plant could open in the oilsands within a decade, says a Calgary-based company in talks with several oilpatch players and government officials to bring the project to reality.

"It'll come -- it's just a matter of the date," said Wayne Henuset, director of Energy Alberta Corporation.

So why is it exactly that oil sands production will hit 4mbd in 2015 and then just stop dead in its tracks? I could see growth halting due to the Kyoto Protocol or some other hard limit imposed by the government, but that doesn't seem likely given the public's current level of political activism, and their profound addiction to the private automobile.

There's also an inconsistency between peak oil sources on this topic. ASPO gives a maximum figure of 4mbd for all heavy oil, but (as we saw in 187. FISHY HIRSCH WEDGES) the Hirsch report assumes that heavy oil production in Venezuela alone can be jacked up from 0.6mbd to 6mbd in 10 years as part of a U.S.-driven "crash program" of mitigation.
-- by JD


At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 4:36:00 AM PDT, Blogger Patrick David said...

4 million bpd is nothing compared to the demand of 120 million bpd we'll see in the near future.

Good luck getting it from the Canadians when China and they themselves need it too.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 5:25:00 AM PDT, Blogger Chris Vernon said...

The ASPO chart says 2.3mbpd heavy in 2005. Try and find out exactly that that 2.3mbpd last year was and that'll tell you that is expected to be capped at 4mbpd. I not sure it includs synthetic fuels from tar sands. It's not the same stuff as Venezuela say they can produce 6mbpd of.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 7:32:00 AM PDT, Blogger Jon said...

Another limiting factor to the tar-sands (at this time) is the access to water and places to store the liquid water waste that is produced.

Although I do not see this as a major issue at this time with the current water flows of the rivers in the area, I wonder how the situation will resolve itself as the glaciers in the mountains continue their retreat.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 11:27:00 AM PDT, Blogger James said...

Jon: I think they are going to start ramping up use of sequestered CO2 gas to replace the use of water, which is putting alot of stress on rivers and lakes, especially here in Central-Northern Alberta (yeah, I'm in Edmonton now, don't hate me, hate the game!) :P

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 11:43:00 AM PDT, Blogger Starvid said...

If you want the ASPO take on the oilsands, check this out:

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 12:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jon said...

James, you defected!

Oh well, I suppose I will be sitting in my lawn chair here in Calgary with green grass and budding trees while you up in Edmonton will still be watching the snow melt on the ground until June. :-)


Love the Chinooks here.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 2:36:00 PM PDT, Blogger Roland said...


We're all going to die from Global Warming.


At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 5:09:00 PM PDT, Blogger Zanth said...

I can see a big problem with nuking the Tar Sands, and it's pretty much political. Remember all that flap in France about mass protests over a new wave of French nuclear weapon tests? I'm sure the Canadians will be just as upset once they hear of nukes going off on their soil, especially if it's to get more oil.

And I second Jon's comments. The only thing I may have useful to add here is probable work shortages because a) they need lots of workers, and b) it's isolated and damn cold up there! Really not much motivation to work up there unless you're in it solely for the $$$$$$

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 5:35:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

The idea on the table is to use nuclear reactors to generate steam, which will be used to cook the oil out of the sands. (I mentioned the 1950s idea of actually blowing off nuclear bombs mainly for historical interest.)

Do you think the Canadians are so opposed to nuclear reactors that they would actually give up their cars to stop them? Sure, they can stop nuclear reactors in the tar sands, but they'll have to pay a lot for it at the pump. If they're that opposed to nuclear reactors, why don't they shut down the reactors which are already operating in Canada? What's the big deal? Canada already operates nuclear reactors, so why would people protest opening a few more at the tar sands?

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 5:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger Jon said...

They can build as many nukes up there as they want. Will further spur the economy in the north, and no one lives way out there except the moose and coyotes.

If someone could get the pebble bed reactor online, I think it would be optimum for that type of application.

At Monday, April 17, 2006 at 6:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

Small reactors, whether the pebble bed type or some other conventional type (like ship reactors), definitely seem like the way to go. In fact, once somebody breaks the ice, nuclear may become a widespread approach for cooking oil out of old holes and heavy deposits everywhere.

At Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 7:55:00 AM PDT, Blogger dscott70 said...

Not to change the subject, but on post 187, I noticed that Hirsch left out bio-fuels as one of his wedeges. True?

At Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 4:49:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

dscott70, yes that's true.

At Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 6:00:00 PM PDT, Blogger popmonkey said...

someone said: 4 million bpd is nothing compared to the demand of 120 million bpd we'll see in the near future.

1. a demand of 120m bpd is completely speculative based on projections based on business as usual, not geological data like the oil sands (sorry to use a PO doomer argument against you)

2. i didn't realize we would have to rely on oil sands 100% in the "near future"...

At Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 4:08:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being honest here, most people on the forums who are talking about oil are really only talking about supplying North America.

Canadian oil sands alone at 5mbpd can't feasibly supply 20mbpd but if everyone went to plug-in hybrids in North America, tripling the fleet efficiency, that 15mbpd could stretch pretty far.

Where would we get the other 5mbpd?

Hmmm. Venezuela has as much tar sands as Canada does. Why can't they scale up to 5mbpd also?

Ooops. Problem solved.
Seems to be a technical problem.

And I dismiss China's claim on Canada entirely.
So far, the US has not invoked the monroe doctrine, but if China acts the goat it soon will, and China is not stupid enough to say, "we will nuke you if you don't back down".
They know that nuking the US will screw up Canada too so they will be shooting their own foot off.
Not gonna happen.

At Sunday, February 21, 2010 at 1:40:00 PM PST, Anonymous Terry Ward Hanna said...

"OIL sands" people, not "tar sands". We produce OIL not TAR.
and... remember all crude OIL is one cannot choose to use other oil sources very easily, if at all.


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