Oil Facts


Alberta is the largest contributor to Canadian oil and equivalent production. In 2015, Alberta accounted for 80 per  cent of Canada’s oil and equivalent production. Since 2011, total crude oil production in Alberta has reversed a downward trend in annual production which had been the norm since the early 1970s. Increased horizontal drilling activity and the introduction of multistage hydraulic fracturing technology helped fuel the gains in production. Crude oil production in Alberta averaged 527 thousand barrels a day (bbls/d) in 2015, down from 590 thousand bbls/d in 2014.

There are 159 litres (42 US gallons) in a barrel of oil. During the early development of the petroleum industry, 42 US gallons was deemed to equal a barrel of oil. The only barrels guaranteed to be 42 US gallons were the blue barrels manufactured for and used by Standard Oil. Thus the standard measure for oil became the 42 US gallon blue barrel or "bbl".

There are about 3,000 "petroleum products" or products made from crude oil including gasoline, ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, records, tires, ammonia, and heart valves.

All crude oil is not the same. Crude oil is called "sweet" when it contains only a small amount of sulphur and "sour" if it contains a lot of sulphur.  Crude oil is defined as a mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Light oil flows easily through wells and pipelines, while heavy oil requires additional pumping or dilution to flow through wells and pipelines. 

The US Energy Information Administration (EIAexternal link icon ) estimates 2015 global crude oil reserves at 1.66 trillion barrels of which the 14 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member countries hold about 73 per cent. Of this, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia make up nearly half (47 per cent) of proven OPEC oil reserves.