This cutting-edge report provides details on production Technologies, Market Details, Project Cost Analysis, Major Alberta Projects Inventory, and, Market Outlook and Opportunities.
With most of the worldâ€™s known oil reserves concentrated in just a few countries, unconventional energy resources, such as oil sands, are now seen as a viable alternative to conventional oil and gas resources, and an attractive option for energy risk abatement.
Unconventional energy resources are resources that heretofore could not be recovered due to economic and/or technological barriers. However, as the price of oil and gas skyrockets and technology drives down the cost of oil sands recovery and production, this resource has become the new â€œblack gold.â€ The demand for oil sands is expected to reach 10.31 million bbl in 2008, up from 8.59 million barrels in 2003 at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 3.7%.
Oil sands are a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen. They are heavy, black and viscous, but can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. While the energy properties and potential of oil sands have been recognized for centuries, there had been no significant attempt to develop the resource until the mid 1960s.
Oil sands are currently found in about 70 countries, including Canada, the former Soviet Union, Venezuela, Cuba, Indonesia, Brazil, Jordan, Madagascar, Trinidad, Colombia, Albania, Rumania, Spain, Portugal, Nigeria, and Argentina. The United States contains scattered deposits of oil sands, mainly in Utah, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and New Mexico.
Three quarters of the world's reserves are located in two regions: Venezuela and the Athabasca region of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada. Oil sands represent as much as 66% of the world's total oil reserves, with at least 1.7 trillion barrels in the Canadian Athabasca tar sands and 1.8 trillion barrels in the Venezuelan Orinoco oil sands, compared to 1.75 trillion barrels of conventional oil, mostly located in Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries.
Recently, investments in oil sands projects have become more attractive due to the increasing price of crude oil and technological advances that have enabled operators to bring down the cost of production. In less than 20 years of mining and upgrading, production costs have been cut in half.
It is expected that high oil prices, coupled with robust global oil demand, will continue to drive oil sands expansion. However, the prospects for oil sands as an energy source depend on the rate and costs at which they can be recovered and converted into quasi-conventional reserves, and challenges to extracting, transporting, and upgrading the resource remain. Moreover, production is sensitive to numerous outside factors, including the price of natural gas, the availability of water, and pipeline capacity to and from oil sands sites.
This report addresses these issues as well as issues relating to the economics, production, upgrading, transport, and marketing of oil sands.
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