Facts and Statistics
The following oil sands facts and statistics are subject to change as new information becomes available. Check back periodically for updates.
Where applicable, external sources have been noted and linked appropriately.
Oil Sands InfographicJanuary 2014
- Alberta's oil sands has proven reserves of about 168 billion barrels-the third-largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
- Each June the Alberta Energy Regulator releases the ST 98 report which estimates reserves and the supply and demand forecasts for all resources in Alberta. (CERI)
- Every dollar invested in the oil sands creates about $8 worth of economic activity; with one-third of that economic value generated outside Alberta - in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
- Oil sands-related investment is expected to generate $79.4 billion in federal and provincial government revenues between 2012 and 2035, on an inflation-adjusted basis. (Conference Board of Canada Report 2012 - Fuel for Thought)
- Oil sands creates opportunity;
- one in 16 jobs in Alberta is directly related to energy.
- About 121,500 Albertans are directly employed in Alberta's mining and oil and gas extraction sectors.
- An inventory of major projects in Alberta is produced by Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education, it includes statistics, publications and economic highlights.
Alberta's oil sands underlie 142,200 square kilometres (km2) of land in the Athabasca, Cold Lake and Peace River areas in northern Alberta. About 3 per cent of the oil sands area can be mined, the remaining 97 per cent of the oil sands covers reserves that are too deep to be mined.
The Alberta Crown owns 81 per cent of mineral rights, including oil sands. Mineral rights owned by the Crown are managed by the Alberta Department of Energy on behalf of the citizens of the province. The remaining 19 per cent of the mineral rights in the province are held by the Federal Government within Aboriginal reserves, by successors in title to the Hudson's Bay Company, by the railway companies and by the descendants of original homesteaders through rights granted by the Federal Government before 1887. These rights are referred to as "freehold rights".
- The department of Energy regularly updates the Oil Sands Projects mapwhich includes the current number of operating projects, those under construction and projects that are approved, announced or in the application process. It also includes operating upgraders and future plans for upgraders.
- Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions for large industrial facilities by passing the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER).
- About 0.15 per cent of global GHG emissions comes from oil sands development.
- Since 1990, oil sands producers reduced per barrel emissions by an average of 26 per cent - some achieved reductions as high as 50 per cent.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology that can be used in a number of industries to reduce CO2 emissions. Alberta is investing $1.3 billion over 15 years in two large scale CCS projects, the Quest Project will capture and store 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 annually from Shell’s Scotford oil sands upgrader and expansion near Fort Saskatchewan.
- Oil sands projects recycle 80-95 per cent of water used and use saline water where possible.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development offers more information on climate change and Alberta's greenhouse gas emissions reduction regulations. The River Management Frameworks impose strict limits on water usage.
- The Alberta Land Stewardship Act supports the Land-use Framework, designed to encompass province-wide strategies to manage the province's land and natural resources to achieve Alberta's long-term economic, environmental and social goals.
- The Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat was created in 2007 to address rapid growth issues in the oil sands regions of Alberta. The Secretariat collaborates with ministries, industry, communities and stakeholders to address the social, infrastructure, environmental and economic impacts of oil sands development. It acts as a main point of contact for inquiries from the public, industry and stakeholders on the government’s plan for managing growth in the oil sands.
- Industry has planted more than 12 million tree seedlings towards reclamation efforts with many more to come. Mine operators are required to supply reclamation security bonds to ensure requirements are met. Reclamation certificates are not issued until monitoring through time demonstrates that these particular lands meet the criteria for return to self-sustaining ecosystems. The first successful reclamation occurred in 2008.
- A summary of reclamation information is available from oilsands.alberta.ca, the Oil Sands information portaloffers environmental data and information about Alberta's oil sands, featuring an interactive map and searchable data library.
- Energy research initiatives like the National Institute for Nanotechnologyat the University of Alberta in partnership with the federal and provincial governments are using nanotechnology to explore and develop innovations to accelerate improvements in the environmental and economic performance in the energy sector.