NEB: Oil sands output gains to continue

Production from the Canadian oil sands will increase through 2040 even if pipeline capacity remains constrained, says the National Energy Board of Canada.

In the reference case of a new energy outlook, the NEB projects Canadian oil production at 6.1 million b/d in 2040, up 56% from the 2014 level. Most of the increase is from the oil sands.

Natural gas production in the reference case increases 22% during the period to 17.9 bcfd. LNG exports represent a key factor in the increase.

The reference case assumes price increases to $80/bbl (2015 US) in 2020 and $107/bbl in 2040 for Brent crude and to $4.55/Mcf in 2040 for Henry Hub natural gas.

Other crude-price assumptions are an average of $26/bbl above and below the reference-case trajectory over the forecast period, ending in 2040 at $80/bbl in the low case and at $134/bbl in the other. For gas, the assumptions are for $3.55/Mcf in 2040 in the low case and $5.75/Mcf in the high case.

Projections for crude oil production are similar in all scenarios through 2020. Under the high crude-price assumption, production rises to 6.9 million b/d in 2040. With low crude prices, production changes little after 2020, reaching 4.8 million b/d in 2040.

Projected 2040 bitumen production from the oil sands is 4.8 million b/d in the reference case, 5.3 million b/d in the high-price case, and 3.8 million b/d in the low-price case—all higher than average bitumen output in 2014 and 2015.

Gas production zooms to 24 bcfd in 2040 under the high-price assumption. With low prices, gas output changes little until 2019 then rises to 16 bcfd at the end of the forecast period.

The reference oil-production case assumes infrastructure is built as needed. If no pipelines are built over the projection period, crude prices are lower than in the reference case to account for higher costs of nonpipeline transport, and production rises to 5.6 million b/d in 2040.

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