Updated May 2022
Figure S3.3 shows the average daily production of upgraded bitumen in Alberta.
In 2021, upgraded bitumen production increased by 4.1 per cent to 182.1 thousand cubic meters per day (103 m3/d) or 1145.9 thousand barrels per day (103 bbl/d). In line with the trend for mining operations (the main source of bitumen for upgrader feedstock), synthetic crude oil (SCO) production was up for most upgraders in 2021.
Production data by projects are reported in the ST39: Alberta Mineable Oil Sands Plant Statistics Monthly Supplement. The following are the highlights for 2021 upgraded bitumen production:
- Upgraded bitumen output declined over the first four months of 2021 due to planned turnaround projects at multiple mines.
- The global recovery in crude oil demand led to elevated prices in the latter half of 2021, which upgraded bitumen producers were able to effectively capture as they increased production significantly after completing their maintenance projects.
- With attractive margins on the sale of SCO, Suncor maximized its upgraded production by allocating an increased share of production from its Firebag in situ operation to be upgraded and marketed as SCO.
- Horizon was the only plant to report an annual decrease in production for 2021, which mirrored the decreased mine output.
Table S3.3 shows upgraded bitumen production by upgrader.
Forecast for 2022 to 2031
A list of proposed projects considered in the forecast is included in the methodology section. In line with improving market conditions, upgraded bitumen production volumes are expected to continue their growth in the near term. By 2031, upgraded production is forecast to reach 203.5 103 m3/d (1280.6 103 bbl/d).
Most of the growth in upgraded production is expected to occur in the first years of the forecast. Operators are expected to maximize utilization rates and pursue optimization projects, driven by attractive margins on SCO and improving market conditions.
As increases in raw bitumen production outpace marginal additions to upgrading capacity, the share of bitumen that is upgraded in the province is expected to decline from 39 per cent in 2021 to 35 per cent by 2031. No new upgrading facilities are assumed to become operational during the forecast period.