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The Canadian oil sands market produced approximately 408.2 million barrels (MMbbl) of bitumen and synthetic crude in 2006, growing at an Average Annual Growth Rate (AAGR) of 7.1% to reach 581.9 MMbbl in 2011. By 2020, production levels are expected to increase to 1,157.8 MMbbl.
Canada holds the largest crude oil deposits outside the Middle East, most of which are in the form of oil sands, and are expected to play a major role in supplying the world's future energy requirements.
Canada is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of proved oil reserves, with 175.2 billion barrels (bbl) of proved oil reserves at the end of 2011, out of which 169.2 billion bbl of reserves were available as oil sands.
Development of the oil sands industry in Canada will continue to be spurred on by the continuous growth of global oil demand and high crude oil prices, as oil sands projects once seen as economically unviable are now being considered profitable. The favourable business and political climate in Canada, and continuous technological advancements are also set to support industry growth.
Oil sands are essentially bitumen, an extra-heavy crude oil, mixed with sand, water, and clay, or other minerals. Bitumen is so viscous that it cannot be pumped or flow without heating or dilution, and needs treatment before undergoing processing in refineries.
Substantial financial activity is taking place in the market, with several companies making investments. The industry also saw the announcement of a significant acquisition in 2012 -the acquisition of NexenInc by China's CNOOC Ltd for $15.1 billion - which reflected a global interest held in Canada's unconventional oil assets. Syncrude, the largest oil sands project in Canada, is also expected to undergo expansion by 2018, and Fort Hills is one of the largest planned oil sands projects, with a capacity to produce 160,000bbl/d by 2016.
Production from the Canadian oil sands industry is expected to increase in the future, due to the start of new projects, and the development of technologies which will enable enhanced oil sands processing.
For more information on the Canadian oil sands market, see the latest research: Canadian Oil Sands Market
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