Canada’s oil output is set to rise 33% by 2035, driven almost entirely by higher oil sands production, but without new export pipelines Canadian producers will continue to be excluded from emerging markets, an industry group said on June 12.
In its annual forecast, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) also warned that Canada’s inability to get new crude export pipelines built, along with regulatory uncertainty, was weighing on investor confidence.
“The competition for capital investment in the global marketplace is fierce and Canada is losing,” CAPP CEO Tim McMillan said in a statement.
Despite the challenges, CAPP said Canadian output would rise to 5.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2035, compared with 4.2 million bbl/d in 2017, driven largely by a 58.5% jump in oil sand production to 4.2 million bbl/d.
Western Canada accounts for roughly 95% of Canada’s oil production, with the bulk coming from Alberta’s oil sands, but an exodus of international oil majors has prompted doubts over whether the region can compete with U.S. shale plays.
Indeed, capital spending on oil projects in the United States rose 38% to hit $120 billion in 2017, while investment in Canada dropped to $34.6 billion, CAPP said.
Efforts to build new pipelines to the coast to tap into emerging markets like China and India have so far failed. Canada sends roughly 99% of its oil to the United States, most of it deeply discounted against the U.S. benchmark price.
The last great hope for expanded access to offshore markets is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which the Canadian government in May agreed to buy for $3.46 billion from Kinder Morgan Canada. The project would nearly triple output on the existing line from Alberta to a Vancouver-area port but is strongly opposed by the province of British Columbia.
With Canadian oil output already surpassing pipe capacity, pipeline operators are also looking to expand major export lines to the United States, but those projects face their own political and regulatory hurdles.