Oil, Gas & Petrochemicals
Edmonton’s economy is driven by Alberta’s abundant natural resources. Northern Alberta’s Athabasca oil sands are the world’s third-largest oil resource with 13% of global total reserves. We sell more oil to the United States than all the Middle Eastern producers combined. Edmonton provides vital logistics, engineering, construction, manufacturing and R&D for the oil sands. Its refining, upgrading and petrochemical industries add value to the raw resource. Here’s how the oil sands energize Canada’s economy:
- Current oil sands production of 1.5 million barrels per day is expected to rise to 3.0 million bpd by 2020, with an ultimate potential of between 6 and 7 million bpd.
- Energy development is the driver for $190 billion of of planned capital investments focused in the Edmonton region and northern Alberta.
- The oil sands are expected to generate 12 million person-years of employment and $2.2 trillion in economic activity across Canada over the next 25 years — much of it centred in Edmonton.
- One in seven jobs in Canada are directly or indirectly related to energy.
- Proposed pipelines and export terminals on the West Coast would provide new opportunities for growth and diversification of our region.
- Albertans produce oil and gas according to stringent environmental guidelines.
How oil sands will drive growth in Alberta
The oil sands are a vast source of bitumen, an ultra-heavy form of oil. Before being refined into products like gasoline and jet fuel, bitumen is upgraded to synthetic crude oil or diesel fuel by removing carbon and adding hydrogen from natural gas. Currently six bitumen upgraders operate in northern Alberta and six more have been proposed.
It is the policy of the Government of Alberta to have approximately 60% of the bitumen extracted from Alberta’s oil sands upgraded in the province. To achieve this, it has launched a program known as BRIK (for bitumen royalty-in-kind). Under BRIK, bitumen producers pay their royalties to the province in the form of raw bitumen. The government then contracts an upgrader to convert its bitumen to higher-value products, which the government sells for a higher price.
The North West Upgrader, under construction near Redwater in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland scheduled for completion in 2014, will process in its first phase 37,500 bpd of BRIK bitumen plus 12,500 bpd for Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. into low-sulphur diesel fuel. Carbon dioxide produced by the upgrader will be captured and piped to conventional oilfields, where it will be used to extract previously unrecoverable conventional oil. When the final phase is completed in 2021, the $15-billion complex will upgrade 150,000 barrels daily.
Upgrading and refining in Edmonton region
- Three of Canada’s 19 oil refineries are in the Edmonton region. Imperial Oil, Shell and Suncor produce approximately 22% by volume of the country’s petroleum products here.
- The Shell Scotford Upgrader adjacent to the Shell Canada refinery, with a 255,000-barrel-per-day capacity, uses an innovative hydrogen-addition process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Alberta is the world leader in refining byproducts of oil sands extraction. Captured byproducts are processed into petrochemicals rather than being burned in flares, resulting in a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Edmonton-based Canadian Centre for Clean Coal/Carbon and Mineral Processing Technologies (C5MPT) is a groundbreaking research institute focusing on clean coal, water-based oil sands extraction, mineral processing and carbon capture.
- Four Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects under development in the Edmonton area are expected to store 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2015.
Since the petrochemical industry’s arrival in the 1950s, Edmontonians have become world leaders in slicing and dicing chains of carbon and hydrogen molecules to create valuable products. Edmonton is a part of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, which is:
- Canada’s largest centre for processing hydrocarbons, with 15 facilities producing 43% of the country’s basic chemicals.
- A world-scale source of ethylene glycols and styrene monomer, two versatile building blocks for the manufacture of plastics.
- Edmonton’s hydrocarbon kitchens also cook up fertilizers, refined metals and an array of specialty products.
- Bitumen upgrading and refining promise to provide a long-lasting supply of feedstock and opportunities for further petrochemical development.
- The Edmonton Energy and Technology Park is being developed as a 4,865-hectare (12,000-acre) eco-industrial park that eventually will produce $18.4 billion a year worth of high-value products in northeast Edmonton.
To learn more about opportunities in oil, gas and petrochemicals in Edmonton, contact: