Recession, lower oil prices hurt Canada oil sands – institute

03 November 2009 20:10  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--The recession and credit crunch, lower oil prices and mounting environmental concerns have hit projects in the oil sands industry of Canada’s Alberta province hard, a leading energy research institute said on Tuesday while revising its output projections for the sector.

Canada’s petrochemicals industry has said it is looking to off-gases from oil sands upgraders as an important source of feedstocks for expansions and new plants.

The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) said the negatives this year resulted in an immediate halt in new project announcements, delays in expansions, and delays in the construction of greenfield oil sands projects.

Under a “realistic scenario,” the institute forecasts Alberta’s oil sands output at 1.7m bbl/day by 2015 and 4.5m bbl/day by 2030, with peak production of 5.3m bbl/day by 2041.

This compares with its projection from February this year of 1.9-2.9m bbl/day by 2015 and 3.7-5.4m bbl/day by 2030, and its much more bullish forecast from last year of 5m bbl/day by 2015 and over 6m bbl/day by 2030.

However, one positive in the wake of the recession were declining capital costs and lower operating costs – estimated down 15% and 13%, respectively – which provided a “golden opportunity” for producers committed to the sector, the institute said.

Oil sands investments were expected to be "highly profitable" for producers and the Alberta government, it said.

Project rates of return could be up to 23%, depending on oil prices and the type of technology used by oil sands operators, it added.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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