Drillable bitumen production reaches 1.037 million bpd in June
Non-mined bitumen production from Alberta’s oilsands regions hit a record high of 1.037 million barrels per day in June, according to a report from FirstEnergy Capital Corp.
The monthly update from the Calgary investment firm notes that output — which is primarily from thermal projects but also includes cold-flow wells — rose nearly 190,000 bpd from the corresponding month in 2011 and was up 54,000 bpd from May (April’s output was also above one million bpd).
Most of Alberta’s oilsands production comes from mining but thermal in situ production is expected to catch and outstrip mining by 2015, according to forecasts from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The jump in June was mainly driven by a big increase at Cenovus Energy Inc.’s Foster Creek steam-assisted gravity drainage project, which hit an all-time high of 125,000 bpd following the completion of a planned turnaround in May, the analysis says.
FirstEnergy analyst Michael Dunn said the study’s results show that growth is slightly ahead of schedule.
“We knew these SAGD projects were coming on as of a couple of years ago, the timing didn’t really change, but some have ramped up quite quickly,” he said.
“Overall, it’s not a shock to the market.”
The report comes the day after CIBC World Markets released a report that suggests oilsands producers could add 270,000 bpd per day per year of capacity through 2020 for a total of about four million bpd, up from 1.6 million bpd in 2011.
The forecast is considerably more bullish than one published in June by CAPP which estimated growth at an average of 180,000 bpd per year to 3.2 million bpd in 2020 from actual 1.6 million in 2011.
Jennifer Grant, oilsands director for the environmental group Pembina Institute, said the growth of thermal oilsands output is alarming, particularly considering that projects have already been approved to more than double current output.