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 InfographicPDF iconJanuary 2014

Economics and Employment

  • 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 reportexternal link icon which estimates reserves and the supply and demand forecasts for all resources in Alberta.
  • Total investment in new Alberta oil sands projects and re-investment (sustaining capital) in existing oil sands projects will exceed $514 billion (2013 Canadian dollars). Revenues from all existing and new projects will exceed $2,484 billion (2013 Canadian dollars). Source: Canadian Economic Impacts of New and Existing Oil Sands Development in Alberta (2014-2038) PDF icon - CERI (Nov. 2014)
  • 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 ThoughtPDF icon)

Oil Sand investment pie chart from conference board of Canada report above in PDF 

  • 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.
  • For every direct job (1) generated in the Alberta oil sands, 1 additional job is generated by indirect association and 1.5 jobs by induced association, in Canada. Source: Canadian Economic Impacts of New and Existing Oil Sands Development in Alberta (2014-2038) PDF icon - CERI (Nov. 2014)
  • Oil sands related total Canadian employment (direct, indirect and induced), as a result of construction of new projects and the operation of new and existing projects, is expected to continue growing from the current level (2014) of 514,000 jobs to a peak of 802,000 jobs in 2028. (Ibid., 4)
  • Oil sands related direct employment in Alberta is expected to continue growing from the current level (2014) of 146,000 jobs to a peak of 256,000 jobs in 2024. (Ibid., 4)
  • Total GDP impacts of all oil sands investment, re-investment and operating revenues is estimated to be $3,865 billion for Canada. (Ibid., 4)
  • Oil sands related taxes directed to the federal government will total $574 billion (2013 Canadian dollars). (Ibid., 6)
  • Oil sands related taxes (excluding royalties) directed to the province of Alberta will total $302 billion (2013 Canadian dollars). (Ibid., 8)
  • Oil sands royalties are forecasted to grow from the current level (2013) of $4.4 billion to $18.2 billion by 2023. The cumulative total of royalties that will be collected by the Alberta government will exceed $600 billion over the next 25 years (2013 Canadian dollars). (Ibid., 9)
  • An inventory of major projects in Alberta is produced by Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education, it includes statistics, publications and economic highlightsexternal link icon


  • 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.

Fact sheet oil sands area map

  • 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". 


  • Oil sands production (upgraded and non-upgraded) is forecasted to grow from the current level of 1.98 million barrels per day (2013) to 3.7 million barrels per day by 2020 and 5.2 million barrels per day by 2030. Source: Canadian Economic Impacts of New and Existing Oil Sands Development in Alberta (2014-2038) PDF icon - CERI (Nov. 2014)
  • The department of Energy regularly updates the Oil Sands Projects mapPDF iconwhich 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.

Environment and Water Usage

  •  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 Regulationexternal link icon (SGER).
  • About 0.15 per cent of global GHG emissions comes from oil sands development.

 Global Emissions pie chart from the Oil Sands fact sheet

  • 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 Developmentexternal link icon offers more information on climate changeexternal link icon and Alberta's greenhouse gas emissionsexternal link icon reduction regulations. The River Management Frameworksexternal link icon impose strict limits on water usage. 

Land Management/Reclamation

  • The Alberta Land Stewardship Actexternal link icon supports the Land-use Frameworkexternal link icon, 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 reclamationexternal link icon information is available from oilsands.alberta.ca, the Oil Sands information portalexternal link iconoffers 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 Nanotechnologyexternal link iconat 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.