Key highlights from the AER's latest in-situ update

Key highlights from the AER's latest in-situ update

The Alberta Energy Regulator recently released June data for the province’s thermal in-situ operations. Here are four key takeaways from this latest update.

1 — 2019 could see the first annual decline since 2002

June production rose 111,000 bbl/day to 1.36 million bbl/day, but that's still well below the record high of 1.46 million bbl/day, reached in December 2017. After rising steadily through the last 2 decades, annualized thermal in-situ production may have trouble topping last year’s 1.38 million bbl/day, due to the province's curtailment program. So far, for the first half of 2019, thermal production is tracking at 1.33 million bbl/day.

Total in-situ production, including primary and enhanced oil recovery, has averaged 1.51 million bbl/day so far this year, 75,000 bbl/day below the 2018 average.

 

THERMAL IN-SITU PRODUCTION FROM THE OIL SANDS (CSS & SAGD)

 

2 — CNRL will likely join the 200,000 bbl/day club in July

Although Devon Energy still takes the #6 position in the month of June, Canadian Natural Resources (CNRL) officially took over operation of the Jackfish facility in July. That makes CNRL the third largest in-situ operator in the oil sands, a very close second to Suncor Energy.

Although CNRL has a higher in-situ nameplate capacity, its Primrose facility has been running well below capacity since 2013, when the plant suffered a flow to surface incident.

3 — Cenovus is still by far the biggest operator

Despite CNRL’s most recent buying spree, Cenovus remains by far the largest in-situ operator, by a very wide margin, averaging 343,000 bbl/day for the first 6 months of this year.

 

THERMAL IN-SITU PRODUCTION BY OPERATOR (H1/2019)

 

4 — JACOS moves into the #9 position, dethroning Athabasca Oil Sands

Now that Devon Energy has exited the oil sands, JACOS moves into the #9 position, averaging 26,000 bbl/day so far this year. The company’s Hangingstone Expansion plant began oil production in the fall of 2018, ramping up to as much as 30,000 bbl/day in May, well above its nameplate capacity of 20,000 bbl/day.

Athabasca Oil Sands now rounds out the Top 10, averaging 25,600 bbl/day for the first half of 2019. The company’s two thermal properties — Leismer and Hangingstone — have a combined nameplate capacity of 32,000 bbl/day, but both facilities are running below nameplate.

In-situ operating data is updated monthly by the AER, typically one month in arrear. Operating metrics for all commercial thermal in-situ production can be found in our Project Data database. Monthly historical data, dating back to 2010, is also available for download.

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