Conventional energy and natural gas industry in Calgary
Alberta’s conventional oil and natural gas industry had been a key driver of Calgary and Alberta’s economy since 1947, when the province’s first major oil field was discovered. While the city and province’s economy continues to diversify, there is no denying the importance that conventional oil and natural gas continue to have in both economic sustainability and job creation.
Alberta Energy reported that in 2010, Alberta produced 459,000 barrels per day of conventional light, medium and heavy crude (Alberta Energy). This conventional crude oil production made up approximately 24 per cent of Alberta’s total crude oil and equivalent production, equal to 17 per cent of Canada’s total crude oil and equivalent production. The crude oil produced is exported to other markets, including the United States, other parts of Canada, and offshore locations. Of the production that remains in the province, most is converted into transportation fuels at refineries in Alberta.
Development of Alberta’s conventional oil industry has created an extensive infrastructure, supporting the continued drive to locate, drill for, and transport oil to market. The Government of Alberta notes that an estimated $10 billion was invested in Alberta’s conventional oil and gas sector.
Calgary is headquarters to major North American pipeline and energy distribution companies such as TransCanada Corporation, Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, Terasen Pipelines and Alliance Pipeline.
Natural gas is one of the cleanest, cheapest and most efficient sources of energy. Alberta is home to a large natural gas resource base and accounts for just over 75 per cent of the natural gas produced in Canada.
In Alberta, 20 per cent of natural gas produced is used for heating residential and commercial properties. The remaining 80 per cent is used in sectors including industrial, electricity generation and transportation. Companies such as ATCO Gas deliver natural gas to communities across Alberta in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
Alberta’s total reserves of natural gas are 917 trillion cubic feet, including conventional natural gas reserves and coalbed methane reserves. Of this, Alberta Energy estimates the province’s recoverable, conventional natural gas to be 73 trillion cubic feet.
Natural gas is also a material used for oil sands and electric power generation, which are seen as key to diversifying Alberta’s energy industry.
Alberta is home to a pipeline infrastructure of over 403,000 kilometres of crude oil, natural gas and other pipelines. Calgary is the decision-making headquarters for a number of large North American pipeline companies and home to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA). Alberta’s network of operating pipelines link major production areas, markets and export terminals throughout North America. The development of new export pipelines and expansions (to join with existing pipelines in the United States) has allowed Alberta gas to be fully integrated into the North American gas marketplace. Future opportunities for pipeline growth will provide an avenue for Alberta heavy crude to extend to larger global markets.