Key takeaways from the 2024 Alberta Energy Outlook

By Mia Parker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Alberta Energy Regulator has released its 2024 Alberta Energy Outlook report with interesting highlights about what the future of energy production in Alberta may look like.

This report, released June 24, details data from 2023 and projects expectations for Alberta’s energy sector in the coming years.

“With expected pipeline capacity improvements and reasonably elevated oil prices, Alberta’s oil and gas industry continued to grow in 2023,” the report states, adding that demand from international markets was a notable contributor to this growth.

Alberta remains the largest producer of natural gas and oil in Canada, with the report citing 60 per cent of natural gas and 85 per cent of oil coming from the province. In 2023, total primary energy produced in Alberta increased by three per cent. 

Production of crude oil and equivalent increased four per cent in 2023, largely driven by bitumen, which the AER expects to remain the “most important driver of energy supply and growth.”

Alberta’s supply of light, medium and heavy crude oil is anticipated to peak in 2026, thereafter declining, while bitumen is still anticipated to grow in the coming projected years. 

The report attributes the decline to the possibility of the new wells placed on production being insufficient to offset the decline in existing production.

Alberta’s primary energy demand for crude oil has already peaked, similar to coal, and future demand is expected to stay relatively consistent, despite the projected decline in supply. 

“Federal and provincial government policies targeting the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions will drive the demand for coal in Alberta to zero, as the remaining coal-fired power plant will be phased out in 2024,” the report says.

In 2023, crude oil drilling activity decreased by 22 per cent, while natural gas drilling increased by one per cent and oilsands drilling by 16 per cent. 

This year’s report is the first to include information on carbon capture. According to the report, one million tonnes of CO2 was sequestered by carbon capture and storage, and 1.59 million tonnes sequestered by CO2-enhanced oil recovery. 

The report says notable growth opportunities exist for hydrogen production, projected to grow four per cent annually, and geothermal and helium production, each expected to grow at an average annual rate of 21 per cent.

Though there was no notable rise in 2023, helium and lithium are both projected to increase in coming years, both in production and the number of producing wells.