Drill Bits & Bytes Part 5: Western Canada Oil Keeps Rising

September 3, 2013 by

Editor’s Note: While VISAGE rebranded to VERDAZO in April 2016, we haven’t changed the VISAGE name in our previous blog posts. We’re proud of our decade of work as VISAGE and that lives on within these blogs. Enjoy.

Today’s Drill Bits & Bytes blog focuses on 2012 oil production in Western Canada, giving a snapshot of industry activity relative to historical trends. All the analyses presented were generated using VISAGE and data from the IHS Information Hub.

Western Canada Oil Production is Still On the Rise

The 1973 oil production rate of 1,738,149 bbl/day set a record for Western Canada that lasted 38 years. It was exceeded in 2011 when it hit 1,839,944 bbl/day. 2012 delivered a 14.5% production increase to an all time record of  2,107,181 bbl/day. The 2012 increase was attributable to 4,600 new oil producing wells, now totalling 81,600 oil producing wells, of which 24,000 (30 %) are horizontal. 52.7% of new production in 2012 came from just five plays (hop down to the Plays section below for details).


Provincial Oil Production Summary

Alberta continues to be the main driver behind Western Canada’s production growth, now comprising 74.2% of total oil production. In 2012, Alberta experienced its largest percentage growth since 1973. Other provinces fared well too. BC’s oil production experienced it’s first growth year since 2001. Saskatchewan experienced it’s second year of oil production growth since 2010, showing a 9.9% increase in 2012 (compared to a 2.2% increase in 2011). Manitoba  now has more than double BC’s oil production and experienced a 25% increase in 2012.


ProvincePercent Growth in 2012

Percent of 2012 WCSB Oil Production

British Columbia5.9%1.0%


Horizontal Wells Dominate Oil Production

The growth in oil production from horizontal wells has been even more pronounced than in gas. In 2012, 30% of oil producing wells were horizontal, accounting for 63% of total production.


 The Top Five Oil Plays

Five Plays accounted for 52.7% of new production (growth) in 2012.

  • McMurray 18.4%
  • Clearwater 11.5%
  • Cardium 10.6%
  • Bakken 7.2%
  • Viking 4.9%

At the end of 2012, McMurray (oil sands) accounted for 23.3% of all of Western Canada’s oil production.


 So How’s 2013 Shaping Up?

As a way of assessing how 2013 oil production will look, I superimposed the monthly production from 2012 and 2011 with the first 5 months of 2013. If production in 2013 follows the same pattern as previous years, we can expect a new record for oil production in Western Canada in 2013.


You may also be interested in the rest of the series:

Drill Bits & Bytes Part 1: Curious about drilling activity in Western Canada
Drill Bits & Bytes Part 2: The Decline of Gas Drilling in Western Canada
Drill Bits & Bytes Part 3: A Shift in Western Canada’s Gas Production
Drill Bits & Bytes Part 4: Oil Drilling Activity in Western Canada

This concludes our Drill Bits and Bytes series.

Thanks for reading. I welcome your questions and suggestions for future blogs.

Some other blogs you may find of interest:

About VISAGE – visual analytics for the petroleum industry
VISAGE analytics software equips operators and analysts in the petroleum industry to make the most valuable and timely decisions possible. VISAGE brings together public and proprietary oil and gas data from multiple sources for easy to use interactive analysis.