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Oilsands Reserves Climbing

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    4 drums coker

    Oilsands Reserves Still Climbing Despite Slowdown
    Although it was a year in which many projects were cancelled or deferred, Canada’s proved oilsands reserves continued to rise in 2009, particularly for in situ projects.

    Probable in situ reserves also grew with a couple of new projects getting closer to development.

    In total, companies reported proved oilsands reserves of 14.9 billion bbls at the end of 2009, up from 11.67 billion reported at the end of 2008. Proved in situ reserves jumped to 5.37 billion bbls from 3.18 billion a year earlier while proved mining reserves (bitumen and synthetic) rose to 9.53 billion bbls from 8.49 billion the previous year.

    The large gain in proved in situ reserves was partly due to reporting differences between the two years by companies such as Encana Corporation and Husky Energy Inc.

    In situ oilsands producers added 564 million bbls from field activity to their proved reserves last year, much more than the 163 million bbls that were produced in 2009. Growth in proved reserves was hampered by negative revisions totaling 104 million bbls, particularly by Encana and ConocoPhillips Canada Limited (each about 87 million bbls).

    On the positive side of the ledger, the big gains were at ConocoPhillips (extra 118 million bbls), Encana (extra 159 million bbls before it transferred all of its bitumen to Cenovus Energy Inc.) and Husky Energy which booked 69 million extra bbls from field work and 76 million bbls from economic factors.

    At the end of 2009, the three largest owners of proved in situ bitumen reserves were ConocoPhillips (1.13 billion bbls), Cenovus (866 million bbls) and Suncor Energy Inc. (666 million bbls).

    Probable in situ bitumen reserves increased by more than 500 million bbls last year as several new players were able to book reserves for the first time. Osum Oil Sands Corp. (320 million bbls), Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. (113.9 million bbls) and Southern Pacific Resources Corp. (54.1 million bbls) were the major contributors to the year-over-year rise.

    On the mining side, proved bitumen and synthetic reserves rose by about 1.04 billion bbls in 2009 to 9.53 billion bbls.

    Suncor Energy topped the list, adding reserves from its acquisition of Petro-Canada (which had an interest in Syncrude Canada Ltd.) and from its Steepbank mine expansion.

    Suncor ended 2009 with nearly 1.9 billion bbls of net synthetic oil reserves in its mining operations plus a further 524 million bbls of probable reserves from its mining assets.

    As a result of continued development of its North Steepbank extension, some 500 million bbls of reserves were moved from probable undeveloped. Of the total, 330 million bbls moved to proved reserves and the remainder was moved to probable developed.

    Imperial Oil Limited held about 1.65 billion bbls of proved mining reserves at the end of last year. Imperial had 961 million proved bbls of synthetic crude from its Syncrude Canada ownership at the end of 2009 plus a further 962 million bbls of proved bitumen from its Kearl oilsands project under construction.

    The company holds a 71% interest in the Kearl project which has total estimated recoverable resource of 4.6 billion bbls of bitumen before royalties.

    Canadian Natural Resources Limited had 1.65 billion bbls of proved reserves booked for its Horizon oilsands mine at the end of last year, down from 2008 due mainly to a negative 307 million revision attributed to economic factors.

    Shell Canada Limited had nearly 1.6 billion bbls of proved synthetic mining reserves at the end of 2009. The company’s reserves benefited from the switch to synthetic reporting from bitumen reporting (due to its hydrogen addition process) and it added 423 million bbls due to mine extensions last year.

    Only three companies reported probable mining reserves for 2009 and the total of all three slipped to 2.32 billion bbls from 2.4 billion bbls at the end of 2008

    Proved Oilsands Reserves Chart

    For more articles see

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