Undervalued and often overlooked, Saskatchewan is a force to be reckoned with in North American energy production. Here’s why
BY ALBERTA OIL STAFF
For better or worse, Alberta gets all the attention when it comes to Canada’s energy resources. But, of course, oil and gas reservoirs don’t adhere to political boundaries, and the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan is no different. As the second-largest oil producer in Canada, and the third-largest producer of gas, Saskatchewan has a lot in common with its big brother next door.
But where the two provinces differ in their overall resource makeup is in variety—and that’s precisely where Saskatchewan leaves Alberta behind. Beyond oil, gas and coal, all of which are abundant in Saskatchewan, the province is also rich in uranium, supplying 22 percent of the electricity-producing uranium worldwide, including that which generates more than five percent of all electricity used in the United States. Canada’s southern neighbor also imports more conventional oil from Saskatchewan than it does from Kuwait. Saskatchewan has assumed the role of North America’s sixth-largest oil-producing jurisdiction after Texas, Alberta, North Dakota, California and Alaska. Not bad for a province that, in 2016, already generates more than one-quarter of its electricity from renewable sources like hydro and wind—and plans to hit one-half by 2030.
Saskatchewan’s known uranium reserves contain four times the energy potential of all known conventional oil reserves in Canada (not including the oil sands). All of Canada’s uranium is mined in Saskatchewan and is used exclusively for electricity generation at nuclear plants, supplying more than 17 percent of Canada’s electric power, while Saskatchewan exports 85 percent of its mined uranium to non-Canadian markets.
Behind Alberta, Saskatchewan is Canada’s second-largest oil producing province with 13 percent of the country’s total production in 2015. The province’s primary conventional oil plays are the Viking, Bakken and Mississippian light oil plays, and the Shaunavon medium oil play. There is also a significant potential for oil sands production along 6.7 million acres of Saskatchewan’s western border, especially in two areas adjacent to Alberta’s Athabasca and Cold Lake oil sands. About 20 percent of the 486,000 barrels of oil produced daily in Saskatchewan in 2015 were used in the province, while 60 percent were exported to the U.S.
Saskatchewan is the third-largest natural gas-producing province in Canada, behind Alberta and B.C. In 2015, the province produced 206 billion cf of gas, with remaining recoverable reserves estimated at 1.8 trillion cf.
With five active open-pit coal mines, Saskatchewan is the third-largest coal producer in Canada, accounting for approximately 14 to 17 percent of the country’s total production. However, unlike B.C. and Alberta, all of Saskatchewan’s produced coal is thermal coal used for electricity generation, as opposed to metallurgical coal used in iron- and steel-making. Approximately 90 percent of the coal produced in Saskatchewan is consumed in the province, while 10 percent is exported to Manitoba.
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