The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB) and Canada's National Energy Board (NEB) have increased their estimate of the total recoverable conventional natural gas resource in Alberta to 223 Tcf, or up about 7% from the NEB's estimate in 2004 and 12% more than the last estimate by the AEUB, according to a new joint report by the agencies.
"The primary reason for the increased ultimate potential is a better understanding of the geology of the province gained as a result of the increased drilling since 1992," the NEB and AEUB said in their report titled Alberta's Ultimate Potential Conventional Natural Gas. "As a result, Alberta will continue to be the main supply region for Canadian gas demands."
The report does not estimate unconventional resources, such as coalbed methane, which could total as much as 500 Tcf, according to the AEUB's Alberta Geological Survey. The new report estimates the range of ultimate marketable conventional natural gas between 205 Tcf and 253 Tcf with 233 Tcf being the base case. Out of that estimated 223 Tcf, however, only 62 Tcf (28%) remains undiscovered.
"Alberta's initial reserves, as booked by the AEUB/NEB, have increased by an average of [3.8 Tcf] per year over the past four years," the agencies said. "If these increases continue at the same rate, it would take about 16 years to find all of the undiscovered resources of conventional natural gas estimated in this study.
"The project team anticipates that annual additions will decline in future years and thus it will take longer to find all of the undiscovered resources," they added. "Alberta's annual production is in the order of [4.8 Tcf], a volume that exceeds annual additions. Consequently, Alberta's remaining reserves will continue to decline." The new report, however, only captures the resources of known geologic plays.
The report said the foothills region continues to be relatively unexplored and is estimated to contain about 20% of the total undiscovered conventional resources in the province. The ultimate potential in the foothills is estimated at 36 Tcf with 34% undiscovered.
The Alberta total for conventional gas (223 Tcf), represents about 43% of Canada's total conventional resource base, the report states. It estimates that all of Canada holds a grand total ultimate potential of 517 Tcf of conventional natural gas, including 51 Tcf in British Columbia, 9 Tcf in Saskatchewan, 7 Tcf in the Southern territories, 91 Tcf offshore of the East Coast, 17 Tcf on the West Coast, 116 Tcf in Northern Canada, 2 Tcf in Ontario and 1 Tcf in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
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