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Updated June 2024


Figure S1.6 shows historical and forecast values of capital expenditures for Alberta’s oil and gas, oil sands, and emerging resources sectors.


Total capital expenditure was Cdn$29.5 billion in 2023, representing a 2% increase from 2022, despite a decrease in oil and gas prices. Although prices were lower in 2023, oil prices remained at reasonably high levels to stimulate capital expenditure growth in the oil sands sector. 

From 2024 onward, enhanced market access and rising crude oil prices provide opportunities for crude oil and oil sands investment, while higher natural gas prices lead to a moderate increase in natural gas investment.

Growth is anticipated to be primarily driven by continued investments in oil sands expansion projects and new drilling for oil and gas.

Oil and Gas Capital Expenditures

In 2023

In 2023, the crude oil and natural gas sector (excluding oil sands) spent an estimated Cdn$15.6 billion in capital expenditures. This represents a 6% decline from 2022, as reflected by the reduction in drilling activity within the sector due to lower oil and gas prices in 2023.

Number of Wells Placed on Production

Crude oil wells: In 2023, 2760 crude oil wells were placed on production in Alberta, down from 3466 wells in 2022.

Natural gas wells: In 2023, 921 natural gas wells were placed on production, down from 952 wells in 2022.

The well activity forecasts for crude oil and natural gas can be found in Table S4.2 and Table S5.3, respectively.

Forecast for 2024 to 2033

Oil and gas capital spending is forecast to increase to Cdn$16.0 billion in 2024 as production responds to gradual growth in natural gas prices and relatively stable crude oil prices. This spending represents a 2% increase from 2023 levels. 

Capital expenditures are expected to increase further to Cdn$17.0 billion in 2025 based on the price forecasts. From 2026 onward, oil and gas capital expenditures are projected to continue to rise, reaching Cdn$20.5 billion by 2033.

Oil Sands Capital Expenditures

In 2023

In 2023, the oil sands sector spent an estimated Cdn$13.2 billion in capital expenditures. These capital expenditures are an 11% increase from 2022. The increased expenditure is attributable to continued debottlenecking and efficiency enhancements across oil sands facilities. 

Sustaining capital expenditures for in situ and mining projects, which is capital spent by oil sands producers to maintain or replace fixed assets, also increased in 2023. 

Forecast for 2024 to 2033

With increased pipeline capacity, oil sands capital expenditures are forecast to reach Cdn$13.9 billion in 2024 and Cdn$15.1 billion in 2025. Spending is projected to be relatively stable beyond 2025, based on the expected timelines of optimization and expansion projects. By the end of the forecast, oil sands capital spending is projected to rise to Cdn$17.0 billion.

Emerging Resources Expenditures

With momentum gaining on renewable energy projects, the emerging resources sector has experienced increased capital spending. The estimated capital expenditures in 2023 are Cdn$0.70 billion, a 21% increase from 2022. This growth is expected to continue, reaching Cdn$0.74 billion in 2024 and growing to Cdn$1.1 billion by 2033. The capital spending forecast is based on public announcements for hydrogen, helium, lithium, and geothermal projects and their relevant estimated capacity additions. Hydrogen capital expenditures include carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) costs related to new hydrogen production. These expenditures include CCUS facilities that are connected to existing carbon pipelines.

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