Poised to take up the mantle of Canada’s new energy capital, Edmonton is strategically located between the world’s second largest oil reserves and the US, one of the planet’s largest energy consumers. As the largest urban centre closest to the province’s vast oil supply in Northern Alberta (the oilsands’ reserves are only eclipsed by oil deposits in Saudi Arabia), Edmonton is both the transportation and logistics hub for Alberta’s highly active oilfield servicing, gas and mining sectors.
In addition to being the provincial capital, this bustling city with a metropolitan region population of more than one million is closer than other major centres to more than half of the top 100 population centres in North America, including Toronto, as well as key US cities such as New York and Chicago. This is an important factor, considering that Canada exports more than 1 million bpd of oil to US markets.
The bigger oil picture
The vast majority of Canada’s oil reserves are found to the north, northeast and northwest of Edmonton, primarily in the Athabasca and Cold Lake regions. These 170 billion bbl oilsands reserves (based on reserves recoverable using current technology) represent 97% of Canada’s total oil reserves. To put it into perspective, the largest portion of the oilsands are located below ground in an area covering 140 200 km2 of land, equivalent to just 4.5% of Canada’s total boreal forest.
The Edmonton factor
Translated into raw capital, Alberta’s oilsands will bring an economic injection of over CAN$ 100 billion to the Edmonton service region in 2010 - 2020 alone, thus making the area one of few places in the world where oil production is growing. Much of this CAN$ 100 billion of planned investments will be centred in or around greater Edmonton.
The city is not complacent regarding its newfound status of energy capital. Global demand for all forms of energy is forecast to double by 2050 and given the scarcity of resources globally, combined with the local workforce’s inextricable link to the energy sector (one in 15 jobs in Alberta relates to energy), sustainability is paramount. One part of these sustainability measures is the development of carbon capture technology within Edmonton.
Edmonton itself is looking towards a bright, sustainable future both economically and environmentally. In many ways, the city can be seen as a totemic ideal that the rest of the energy industry should strive towards if it is to meet the booming energy demands of the future: clean, innovative and, crucially, sustainable.
The full article from the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation can be found in the June 2011 issue of Hydrocarbon Engineering