Monday, November 22, 2010

Tar Sands Growth Update

The above graph of Canadian tar sands production is from Statistics Canada (see procedure here).  The latest datum is for April 2010.  You can see that growth has been somewhat lumpy, but basically has been continuing at a fairly steady pace for decades.  A look at the running 12 month mean over prior 12 month mean growth confirms this impression:

Contra the New York Times, nothing special has happened to this series in the last three years, and the increase over that time is around 200 thousand barrels/day - hardly a game-changer in a world using around 87 mbd of liquid fuels.  More specifically, the NYT piece said:
But no sooner did the demand-and-supply equation shift out of kilter than it swung back into something more palatable and familiar. Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia.
"Just as it seemed..."  The trend has been happening more-or-less steadily for twenty five years.

The doubling time here is about seven or eight years, so if present trends were to continue, by 2025 Canada would be producing about 6mbd from the tar sands (but only half of it being actual fuel, the other half bitumen).


porsena said...

Saturday's paper carried an interesting article on the potential for producing oil from carbonate rock that underlies part of the Athabasca oil sands. The planned small scale production will use some form of in-situ heating.

The potential addition to oil sands reserves, on the order of a couple of percent, doesn't seem large enough to alter the big picture.

Chris Nelder said...

Thanks for updating that chart, Stuart.

I am skeptical about the past growth rate continuing into the future, because most of the past production was from surface mining operations, and future growth is expected to come mainly from in-situ (underground) production - two very different things.

Unknown said...

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers ( guess guys who pump it, not report about it, predicts 3.8 Mbpd of everything combined in 2025