CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The revolution in U.S. shale oil has battered Canada’s energy industry in recent years, ending two decades of rapid expansion and job creation in the nation’s vast oil sands.
Now Canada is looking to its own shale fields to repair the economic damage.
Canadian producers and global oil majors are increasingly exploring the Duvernay and Montney formations, which they say could rival the most prolific U.S. shale fields.
Canada is the first country outside the United States to see large-scale development of shale resources, which already account for 8 percent of total Canadian oil output. China, Russia and Argentina also have ample shale reserves but have yet to overcome the obstacles to full commercial development.
Canada, by contrast, offers many of the same advantages that allowed oil firms to launch the shale revolution in the United States: numerous private energy firms with appetite for risk; deep capital markets; infrastructure to transport oil; low population in regions that contain shale reserves; and plentiful water to pump into shale wells.
Together, the Duvernay and Montney formations in Canada hold marketable resources estimated at 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 4.5 billion barrels of oil, according to the National Energy Board, a Canadian regulator.
“The Montney is thought to have about half the recoverable resources of the whole oil sands region, so it’s formidable,” Marty Proctor, chief executive of Calgary-based Seven Generations Energy, told Reuters in an interview.
Canada’s shale output stands at about 335,000 bpd, according to energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, which forecasts output should grow to 420,000 bpd in a decade. The pace of output growth could quicken and the estimated size of the resources could rise as activity picks up and knowledge of the fields improves, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
FILE PHOTO: Four rigs drill at the Super Pad in Seven Generations Energy’s Kakwa River Project in northwest Alberta, Canada in a photo provided January 19, 2018. Seven Generations Energy Ltd/Handout via REUTERS
Canadian energy officials are now counting on shale, also known as “tight” oil, to lure new investment.