Market Snapshot: Impacts of the Fort McMurray wildfires on Canadian crude oil production

Release date: 2016-05-12

Reports on the Fort McMurray wildfires estimate between 1.0 and 1.5 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of oil sands production was cut earlier this week. This represents roughly 40 to 65 per cent of total oil sands production and 25 to almost 40 per cent of total Canadian crude oil production. As of May 12th production is gradually returning.

Figure Source and Description

Source: NEB

Description: The stacked chart shows historical Canadian crude oil production from 2005 to 2015, broken down by eastern and western Canada, and oil sands and conventional. Total Canadian crude oil production has increased from 2.61 MMb/d in 2005 to 3.91 MMb/d in 2015. While eastern Canadian production has declined from 0.31 MMb/d in 2005 to 0.18 MMb/d in 2015, total western Canadian production has increased, from 2.30 MMb/d in 2005 to 3.73 MMb/d in 2015. In 2015, the oil sands made up 60 per cent of total Canadian production of crude oil and equivalent.

In 2015, Canada produced an average of 3.91 MMb/d of crude oil. Of this volume, nearly 2.38 MMb/d came from the oil sands near Fort McMurray, representing roughly 60 per cent of total Canadian production. Non-oil sands production in western CanadaFootnote 1 accounted for 1.35 MMb/d or roughly 35 per cent of total Canadian production. Production in eastern Canada (primarily from east coast offshore) accounted for 0.18 MMb/d, or roughly five per cent of total Canadian production.

Bitumen from the oil sands can be extracted in two ways. Deposits near the surface are developed using conventional mining techniques, while deposits that are too deep to mine are developed using in situ methods such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). Combined oil sands production has increased substantially, from 1.07 MMb/d in 2005 to 2.38 MMb/d in 2015, with the portion attributable to in situ methods increasing during that time frame from 41 per cent to 49 per cent.

The majority of Canadian crude oil production is exported. In 2015, total Canadian crude oil exports hit a record 3.05 MMb/d, with most of these exports destined for the United States. Remaining Canadian production is consumed in Canadian refineries, including major Alberta facilities designed to refine synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen from the oil sands.

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