Updated June 2021
Crude oil production decreased by 12 per cent in 2020. The global economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a rise in oil stockpiles, led to historically low oil prices and a decline in drilling activity and production.
Light crude oil production reached a record high in 2020, accounting for 58 per cent of total crude oil production. Producers targeted formations containing higher-value light crude oil, which have higher initial productivity rates and quicker payouts.
Figure S4.1 shows the average daily production of crude oil from all wells, by Petroleum Services Association of Alberta (PSAC) area.
Production in 2020
Production in 2020 declined in response to the collapse in oil prices, to a total of 67.4 thousand cubic metres (103 m3/d) or 424.2 thousand barrels per day (103 bbl/d). This is a 12 per cent decline from 76.9 103 m3/d (483.9 103 bbl/d) in 2019.
The decline in production was driven by a decrease in the number of wells placed on production. However, the decrease in wells was partly offset by (see the well activity page) improved technology and drilling advancements for new connections that increased well performance (higher initial productivity and slower decline rates). Most wells were horizontal wells completed using hydraulic multistage fracturing.
Crude oil production in 2020 by density was
- 58 per cent light crude oil,
- 19 per cent medium crude oil,
- 8 per cent heavy crude oil, and
- 15 per cent ultra-heavy crude oil.
Producers are increasingly commercializing formations with large volumes of light crude oil, such as the Cardium, Montney, Duvernay, Viking, and Mannville Group Formations, because of the price premium on light oil.
Table S4.1 shows the crude oil production and wells placed on production in 2019 and 2020, including forecasts to 2030.
Forecast for 2021 to 2030
Based on the forecast for oil prices, total crude oil production is expected to increase from 67.4 103 m3/d (424.2 103 bbl/d) in 2020 to 72.0 103 m3/d (452.9 103 bbl/d) by 2024 as prices gradually improve throughout the forecast. However, a decline to 70.2 103 m3/d (441.8 103 bbl/d) is expected by 2030 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 anticipated to increase from 76 per cent in 2020 to 77 per cent in 2021, leveling to 78 per cent by the end of 2030.
Figure S4.2 shows the average daily production of crude oil by density.