Growth in oilsands projects drives need for more pipelines to 2030: CAPP

Christina Lake. Image: Cenovus

Canada will need more pipelines built through to 2030 to transport an additional 1.3 million bbls per day of oilsands production to markets across North America and around the world, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) announced today in its 2017 Crude Oil Forecast, Markets and Transportation report.

Overall Canadian oil production will grow to 5.1 million bbls per day in 2030, up from 3.85 million bbls per day in 2016.

This 1.3 million bbl-per-day growth will be driven by a 53-per-cent increase in forecasted oilsands production of up to 3.7 million bbls per day in 2030 from 2.4 million bbls per day in 2016.

Conventional oil production is expected to remain flat, producing 884,000 bbls per day on average throughout the outlook.

New offshore production from the Hebron project in Newfoundland and Labrador, expected at the end of 2017, will contribute to a rise in eastern Canadian output to 307,000 bbls per day by 2024, but thereafter, due to natural declines, forecasted production will drop to 186,000 bbls per day by 2030.

The projected growth will exceed the existing pipeline transportation capacity, highlighting the urgent need for pipelines heading east, west, and south. Today, the pipeline network can transport four million bbls per day of oil and oil products but by 2030 it will need to move more than 5.5 million bbls per day. Increased pipeline capacity to reach more Canadians and new, growing markets around the world will ensure Canada remains globally competitive.

Capital spending in the oilsands is expected to decline for the third consecutive year to $15 billion in 2017 from $34 billion in 2014. Drilling by conventional crude oil producers is forecast to increase 70 per cent compared to 2016 levels, but will still be 40 per cent lower than in 2014.

At present, Canada’s oil industry faces a number of challenges tempering long-term growth prospects, including uncertainty related to provincial and federal climate change policies in Canada, potential protectionist policies in the U.S., and diverging regulatory efficiencies between Canada and the U.S.

Among its biggest challenges continues to be pipeline constraints, CAPP says. In the past year pipelines such as the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, Enbridge Line 3, and Keystone XL have been approved and, when built, will provide much-needed pipeline capacity to access North American and Asian markets. However, Energy East—a portal connecting Canada to Europe and beyond—is still needed to further connect Canada’s growing supplies to diverse markets.

“The urgent need for new pipelines to increase our competitiveness continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing our industry. Without access to emerging new markets we’re putting our economy at risk,” said Tim McMillan, president and CEO of CAPP.

“It is imperative we get our oil to markets in all directions to ensure fair market value for our natural resources, and provide the world with a source of safe, reliable, and secure energy from Canada.”

The 2017 Crude Oil Forecast, Markets and Transportation report can be downloaded here .