Alberta sources energy from crude oil, natural gas, coal, hydro, wind and biomass.
Oil, natural gas and petroleum products accounted for 73% of Alberta's exports in 2011.
Oil, natural gas and petroleum products accounted for 27.6% of Alberta's provincial GDP in 2011.
In 2011, petroleum industry payments to the province, which amounted to $1.6 billion, accounted for 29.6% of provincial government revenues.
Approximately 167,400 Albertans work in the oil, gas, coal, and utilities industries.
Discover the key energy facts about Alberta.
By the numbers (1MB PDF)
The oil sector has been a driver of the Alberta economy for almost 100 years. While the sector took off in 1947 with the Leduc discovery, the province's first major oil field was discovered in Turner Valley in 1914.
In 2010, Alberta's conventional crude oil reserves totalled 1.49 billion barrels or about 36% of Canada's total. Alberta also has 169.3 billion barrels of oil sands reserves. Including conventional oil, condensate, oil sands and natural gas liquids, Alberta has 172.4 billion barrels of oil reserves, or 98% of Canada's total.
In 2011, Alberta's conventional liquids production averaged 636,000 barrels per day, or about or about 44.5% of Canada's total crude oil and equivalent production. Alberta's oil sands production averaged 1.51 million barrels per day for total of 2.15 million barrels per day, or about 73% of Canada's total crude oil production.
Alberta is home to a large natural gas resource base which accounted for 70.9% of the marketed natural gas produced in Canada in 2011. Although natural gas is found throughout the province, concentrations are heavier in the mid- and southeast portions of Alberta.
Natural gas was discovered in Alberta in 1883, and by 1890, residents of Medicine Hat were using natural gas found beneath the town for cooking, heating and lighting.
Alberta produced an average of 10.2 billion cubic feet per day of marketed natural gas in 2011.
As of December 2011, there were 99 active oil sands projects in Alberta. Of these, five are mining projects; the remaining projects use various in situ (in place) recovery methods. In 2011 oil sands were the source of about 70% of Alberta's total crude oil and equivalent production and about 50% of all crude oil and equivalent produced in Canada.
The oil sands region has a total area of 142,000 square kilometres, larger than Florida, twice the size of New Brunswick, four and a half times the size of Vancouver Island, and 26 times larger than Prince Edward Island. However, only about 4,800 square kilometres, or three per cent of that area could potentially be mined. The rest will be developed using in situ means. So far, 715 square kilometres have been disturbed, all of which will be reclaimed.
Natural Gas Pipelines
TransCanada owns and operates the 23,095-kilometre Alberta System which gathers natural gas for use within the province and delivers it to provincial boundary points for connection with its Canadian Mainline, BC System, the Foothills System and other pipelines. The 23,186-kilometre Mainline system is one of the largest carriers of natural gas in North America.
TransCanada also owns and operates the 1,241-kilometre Foothills system which transports natural gas to export terminals at the U.S. border for use in the western United States.
The 3,719-kilometre Alliance pipeline and carries an average 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from northwest Alberta to Chicago.
Crude Oil Pipelines
Enbridge owns and operates its Canadian Mainline system, a 2,306-kilometre pipeline running from Edmonton to Gretna, Manitoba, where it connects with the Lakehead System, and from Sarnia to Montreal. Capacity is 2.5 million barrels per day.
Enbridge also owns and operates the Athabasca Pipeline, a 540-kilometre, 345,000 barrel per day line running from Fort McMurray to Hardisty, and the Waupisoo Pipeline, a 385-kilometre, 350,000 barrel per day line running from Fort McMurray to Edmonton.
Kinder Morgan's 280,000 barrel per day Express Pipeline runs from Hardisty 1,263 kilometres to Casper, Wyoming where it connects with the Platte Pipeline which continues to Wood River, Illinois.
Kinder Morgan's 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline transports 300,000 barrels per day of crude oil and refined products from Edmonton, Alberta to marketing terminals and refineries on the west coast. Kinder Morgan has proposed expanding the pipeline to double its current capacity.
Plains Midstream's Rainbow Pipeline runs 1,000 kilometres from Rainbow Lake to Edmonton, and its Rangeland Pipeline runs from Edmonton to the United States border. Both carry crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids.
The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is a twinned pipeline carrying petroleum from Edmonton, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and condensate from Kitimat to Edmonton. The pipeline is undergoing public consultation.
Refineries & Upgraders
The Imperial oil refinery is located in Strathcona County. In May 2006, the Strathcona refinery began producing ultra-low sulphur diesel, reducing its sulphur content by more than 97%. The refinery has approximately 450 employees and 250 contractors, and has a daily rated capacity of 187,000 barrels of crude oil.
Shell Canada's Scotford Refinery is the first refinery to exclusively process synthetic crude from Alberta's oil sands. The refinery has more than 750 full-time staff and long term contractors, and a capacity of 100,000 barrels of synthetic crude oil daily. Shell also owns and operates a 255,000-barrel per day upgrader at Scotford that transforms bitumen into light, sweet synthetic crude oil.
Suncor's Edmonton refinery has a capacity of 135,000 barrels per day and produces a high yield of light oils exclusively from oil sands-based feedstocks.
As well as the Shell upgrader, there are four others in Alberta: Suncor (361,000 barrels per day), Syncrude (350,000 barrels per day), Nexen (72,000 barrels per day) and Canadian Natural Resources (110,000 barrels per day).
Alberta currently has 900 megawatts of installed hydroelectricity generating capacity.
Alberta currently has 22 hydro facilities in operation. Ontario leads the country with 200.
The Brazeau facility, operated by TransAlta is the largest in the province providing 39% (355 megawatts) of all Alberta's hydroelectricity.
TransAlta, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Canadian Hydro Developers and Glacier Power, proposed the 100-megawatt Dunvegan Hydro Project near Fairview, Alberta. The project is a low-head, run-of-the-river hydroelectric generating facility which, when completed, will provide enough electricity for more than 80,000 homes. In May 2009, TransAlta received approval from the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the Alberta Utilities Commission to construct and operate the facility. The project site is currently undergoing additional geotechnical, engineering and environmental assessment work prior to construction.
Alberta has approximately 33.3 billion tonnes of coal reserves of which 32% are accessible by surface mining and 68% by underground mining. Alberta's coal resources contain more than twice the energy of all of the province's other non-renewable energy resources, including conventional oil and pentanes, natural gas, natural gas liquids, and bitumen and synthetic crude.
In 2011, there were 11 operating mines in Alberta. Total combined production amounted to 30.1 million tonnes, 68% of which was thermal coal and 32% of which was metallurgical coal.
Technologies, such as coal gasification, coal liquefaction, carbon dioxide storage and sequestration, have the potential to allow Alberta to utilize its coal with near-zero, possibly even zero, emissions into the atmosphere.
The Government of Alberta is investing $2 billion to encourage construction of the province's first large-scale carbon capture and storage projects to reduce emissions at facilities such as coal-fired electricity plants and oil sands extraction sites and upgraders.
As at June 2012, there are 29 wind farms in Alberta. With 967.5 megawatts of installed capacity, enough to supply more than 640,000 homes with electricity for a year, Alberta has Canada's second largest wind power capacity behind Ontario.
The largest wind farm is located near Drumheller, about 120 kilometres north east of Calgary, and has an installed capacity of 88 megawatts.
According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, another 32 wind projects with combined installed capacity of 4,246 megawatts have been proposed for connection between 2013 and 2015.
Since 2001 Calgary Transit in partnership with ENMAX and Vision Quest Windelectric Inc. has used wind-generated electricity to power the CTrain light rail system. Twelve wind turbines generate the wind power reducing CO2 emissions by 46,000 tonnes annually.
Thermal Electricity Generation
Alberta currently has 6,216 megawatts of coal plant electricity generating capacity. Alberta has the most cost coal fired thermal generation facilities in the country with nine, the largest of which is the Sundance (Wabamun) facility with 1,566 megawatts capacity.
The province also has 5,472 megawatts of natural gas fired electricity capacity. Of the 69 plants, the largest, with 480 megawatts installed capacity, is the Joffre plant at Red Deer.
Almost all of Alberta's 409 megawatts of biomass-fired electricity capacity is fuelled by wood waste from the province's forestry industry.
Thermal electricity facilities can generate power several different ways, including natural gas (represented by circles on the map), oil/diesel generation (squares), coal (triangles) and biomass (diamonds).
Alberta has one ethanol facility in Red Deer with a production capacity of 42 million litres per year. The province also has two biodiesel facilities with a combined production capacity of 20 million litres per year.
Alberta Energy Exports to the United States