​ Facts and Statistics

The responsible development of oil sands is a key driver of Alberta’s and Canada’s economy. It creates jobs and tax revenue for government which support the social programs and capital infrastructure projects we rely on.

Oil sands facts, statistics and indicators are subject to change as new information becomes available. Oil sands sustainability indicators highlight trends across economic, environmental and social topics in Alberta’s oil sands areas.

  On this page

​Where applicable, external sources have been noted and linked appropriately.
Sources are the Government of Alberta unless otherwise stated, direct sources have been noted and linked.

Reserves and Production

  • Alberta's oil sands has the third largest oil reserves in the world, after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

  • Alberta's oil sands proven reserves equal to about 165.4 billion Barrels (bbl).

  • Crude bitumen production (mined and in situ) totaled about 2.8 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2017. Source: Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) ST 98external link icon, ST39external link iconand ST53external link iconreports.


  • Capital investment in Alberta's upstream energy sector, which includes oil sands, conventional oil and gas, mining and quarrying was equal to about $28.3 billion in 2016, estimated at $26.5 billion in 2017 and is forecast at $23.7 billion in 2018. Source Statistics Canadaexternal link icon


  • In 2017, approximately 140,300 people were employed in Alberta’s upstream energy sector. Source: Statistics Canadaexternal link icon, Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours.


  • For the eighth fiscal year in a row, bitumen royalty made the largest contribution to provincial
    resource royalty revenue. In 2016-17, bitumen revenue collected totaled $1.48 billion, or 47.9
    per cent of the non-renewable resource revenue. Bitumen royalties were higher than budgeted due
    to higher than expected crude oil prices. (2016-17 Energy Annual reportexternal link iconHistorical royalty data is available.


  • Alberta's oil sands underlie 142,200 square kilometres (km2) of land in the Athabasca, Cold Lake and Peace River areas in northern Alberta. 

  • Reserves shallow enough to mine (up to 75 meters) are found only within the Athabasca oil sands area. Surface Mineable Area (SMA) equals to about 4,800 km2 and accounts for about 3.4 per cent of total oil sands area.

Fact sheet oil sands area map


           Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)
  • Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate GHG emission reductions for large industrial facilities.

  • National statistics for GHG emissionsexternal link iconby Province and Territory (Environment Canada) 
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology that can be used in a number of industries to reduce CO2 emissions. Alberta is investing $1.24 billion over 15 years in two large scale CCS projects, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line and the Quest Project.

  • Alberta's current emissions are available under Climate leadership.

  • The Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulationexternal link icon came into effect on January 1, 2018, it replaced the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation. It applies to large industrial emitters (over 100,000 tonnes) and to smaller emitters (>50,000 tonnes) who choose to opt in.

Water Usage

  • Oil sands projects recycle 80-95 per cent of water used and use saline water where possible.

  • River Management Frameworksexternal link iconfrom Alberta Environment and Parks impose strict limits on water usage.

Land Management/Reclamation

  • Mine operators are required to supply reclamation security bonds to ensure requirements are met.  Reclamation certificates are not issued until monitoring through time demonstrates that these particular lands meet the criteria for return to self-sustaining ecosystems. The first successful reclamation occurred in 2008.

  • Disturbed oil sands surface minable area equaled to about 895 km2 in 2013 accounting for less than 1 per cent of total oil sands area and about 0.2 per cent of Alberta boreal forest which covers over 381,000 km2.

  • The total area occupied by oil sands tailings ponds and associated structures (such as dikes) was 220 km2 at the end of 2013. Of that, the total liquid surface area of the ponds was 88 km2. The total volume of fine fluid tailings reported by the mine operators for 2013 was 975.6 million cubic meters (m3).

  • On July 14, 2016, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) announced the release of Directive 085: Fluid Tailings Management for Oil Sands Mining Projectsexternal link icon, which will drive further operator action to reclaim legacy tailings in Alberta’s mineable oil sands.
  • Oil sands mine reclamation and disturbance tracking by yearexternal link iconis a sustainability indicator under the Oil Sands information portalexternal link icon(OSIP) which offers environmental data and information it features an interactive map and searchable data library.

  • The Alberta Land Stewardship Actexternal link iconsupports the Land-use Frameworkexternal link icon, designed to encompass province-wide strategies to manage the province's land and natural resources to achieve Alberta's long-term economic, environmental and social goals. 

  • The Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat was created in 2007 to address rapid growth issues in the oil sands regions of Alberta. The Secretariat collaborates with ministries, industry, communities and stakeholders to address the social, infrastructure, environmental and economic impacts of oil sands development.