May 29, 2014 / 7:38 PM / 4 years ago

Alberta oil sands output to nearly double by 2023 - regulator

CALGARY, Alberta, May 29 (Reuters) - Crude production from Alberta’s oil sands is forecast to nearly double to 4.1 million barrels per day by 2023, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) said on Thursday.

In its annual supply and demand outlook the AER, which regulates the Canadian province’s oil and gas industry, said raw bitumen production will rise 95 percent from the 2.1 million bpd produced in 2013. The 2013 total was an 8 percent increase on the previous year.

Most of the future growth is expected to come from “in situ” projects that use steam-assisted methods to produce bitumen, such as those operated by companies including Cenovus Energy Inc . Mining operations, such as Imperial Oil’s recently-opened Kearl project, will also expand.

Canada’s oil sands are the world’s third-largest reserves of crude oil after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

The AER said conventional oil production rose 5 percent last year to 582,000 bpd thanks to the use of horizontal wells and multistage fracturing technology.

Production of natural gas liquids, found in areas such as the Duvernay shale play in west central Alberta, rose by 6 percent.

The province’s remaining established reserves of oil sands bitumen and conventional crude totaled 169 billion barrels, including 167.2 billion barrels of bitumen and 1.8 billion barrels of conventional crude oil.

Remaining established reserves of natural gas liquids stood at 1.6 billion barrels, up 2 percent from 2012, while conventional gas reserves were estimated at 32 trillion cubic feet, down 2 percent from the previous year. (Reporting by Nia Williams, editing by G Crosse)

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