Updated May 2022
In 2021, the Canadian and U.S. economies began to rebound and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, with energy demand increasing as COVID-19 restrictions eased. Producers took advantage of higher oil prices and placed more new wells on production in 2021, resulting in a 3 per cent increase in crude oil production.
Light crude oil production accounted for 58 per cent of total crude oil production. Producers targeted formations containing high-value light crude oil with higher initial productivity rates and quicker payouts.
Figure S4.1 shows the average daily production of crude oil from all wells by the Petroleum Services Association of Alberta (PSAC) area.
Production in 2021
In 2021, production increased to 69.6 thousand cubic metres (103 m3/d), or 437.7 thousand barrels per day (103 bbl/d), in response to higher oil prices. This is a 3 per cent increase from 67.4 103 m3/d (424.2 103 bbl/d) in 2020.
The increase in the number of new wells also increased production. Also, well performance increased because most new wells were horizontal wells completed using hydraulic multistage fracturing and benefitted from improved technology and drilling advancements for new connections (higher initial productivity and slower decline rates) (see the well activity page).
Crude oil production in 2021 consisted of (by density light to heavy)
- 58 per cent light crude oil,
- 17 per cent medium crude oil,
- 8 per cent heavy crude oil, and
- 17 per cent ultra-heavy crude oil.
Producers are increasingly commercializing formations with large volumes of light and medium crude oil, such as the Cardium Formation, Montney Formation, Viking Formation, and Mannville Group, because of the price premium on light oil.
Table S4.1 shows the crude oil production and wells placed on production in 2020 and 2021 and includes forecasts to 2031.
Forecast for 2022 to 2031
Based on the oil prices forecast, total crude oil production is expected to increase from 69.6 103 m/d (437.7 103 bbl/d) in 2021 to 82.6 103 m3/d (519.8 103 bbl/d) by 2025 as the number of new wells placed on production remains relatively high over the medium term. However, a decline to 76.1 103 m3/d (479.1 103 bbl/d) is expected by 2031 as the number of new wells placed on production will not offset the decline in existing production.
The combined share of light and medium crude oil production is expected to increase from 75 per cent in 2021 to 77 per cent by 2031.
Figure S4.2 shows the average daily production of crude oil by density.