Alberta is Canada's largest oil and natural gas producer and is home to vast deposits of oil sands.

Quick facts

  • $3.1 billion - in payments industry made for the use of Alberta's oil and gas resources in fiscal 2016/17, seven per cent of total government revenue
  • $6.0 billion - average industry payment to the province over the last five years
  • $84 billion - in payments to the provincial government over the last 10 years
  • $11 billion - in industry spending on exploration and development in conventional areas in 2016
  • $15 billion - in capital spending in the oil sands in 2016
  • 10.2 billion - cubic feet per day of marketable natural gas produced in 2016
  • 444,000 - barrels per day of conventional oil produced in 2016, an decrease of 86,000 barrels per day from 2015
  • 2.4 million - barrels per day produced from the oil sands in 2016
  • 4 refineries – with capacity to produce 460,000 barrels per day of oil or 25% of Canada's total refining capacity
  • 4 upgraders – with capacity to upgrade 1.35 million barrels per day of oil 

Alberta's resources

Alberta's oil and natural gas resources have drawn interest for more than 200 years. Historical documents date back as far as 1715, when James Knight, Factor of Fort York, wrote in his journal about "gum or pitch that flows out of the banks of a river” (the Athabasca). His is the first report by a European regarding the oil sands deposits in western Canada. Efforts to tap the oil sands resource began in the early 20th century. However, their potential wasn't fully grasped until the late 1930s.

Canada's oil sands are found in three deposits - the Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake deposits located in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Alberta also has plentiful natural gas resource – estimated at 403 trillion cubic feet (tcf), of which 170 tcf has been produced. To put that into context, one tcf of natural gas will heat all gas-heated homes in Canada – almost five million – for two years. Source: National Energy Board