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Tallying Alberta's production losses during the May wildfires

Tallying Alberta's production losses during the May wildfires

Two months after wildfires ripped through the heart of Fort McMurray, data is finally starting to trickle through on impacts to Alberta's economy and oil production out of the oil sands.

About 1 million bbl/day of bitumen production was taken offline for about 4 weeks during the month of May, representing over one-quarter of Canada's total crude oil output. Full production around the Fort McMurray area wasn't fully restored until the middle of July due to the slow ramp-up of in-situ facilities and delayed maintenance turnarounds for several bitumen upgraders.

Here is the latest production data from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER):

 MAY DATA 
(bbl/day)
 PRE-WILDFIRES 
(bbl/day)
 DIFFERENCE 
(bbl/day)
Bitumen production (non-upgraded): 
1,221,000
1,552,000
↓ 330,000
Upgraded bitumen production: 
350,000
1,000,000
↓ 650,000
Conventional oil production: 
491,000
500,000
n/c

Last week, Statistics Canada released dismal economic data for May, noting that the effects of the production outages spread far beyond Alberta's borders. Exports to the US were also impacted, although not nearly as much as expected thanks to volumes that came out of Canada's oil storage hubs.

This will be the first year Canadian oil production will decline since the downturn of 2008/2009. However, analysts are forecasting a sharp rebound into 2020 as several new projects and brownfield expansions come online.

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