Quick Facts and Figures

By 2016, increasing conventional oil and gas activity, together with emerging “oil-in-carbonate” oil sands developments, are expected to further drive population growth – with a total permanent population (M.D. and Bigstone Cree Nation Reserves) of about 5,650 forecast.*

An additional 2,200 temporary or non-resident workers are forecast to be housed in the region’s (expanded) work camps by as early as the peak winter months of 2015/2016.*

*Nichols Applied Management forecasts, September 2011.

Oil Sands Facts

Companies active in the Wabasca/Desmarais area include:

  • Cenovus
  • Canadian Natural Resources
  • Laricina Energy
  • Shell Canada
  • Husky Energy
  • Encana
  • Paramount Hoole

A number of other companies hold leases in the area and are currently involved in a range of resource delineation activities.

The Government of Alberta’s Comprehensive Regional Infrastructure Sustainability Plan (CRISP) for the Athabasca Oil Sands Area suggests that the population of the Municipal District of Opportunity may eventually increase to 6,000 or even 8,000 once total production in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area reaches 6 million barrels per day (bpd).

The CRISP report assumes that the Wabasca/Desmarais area will likely – and in time – contribute some 200,000 bpd to total Athabasca Oil Sands Area production.

Alberta’s three major oil sands deposits include:

Athabasca Deposit (Includes the Wabasca/Desmarais Area)
(236 billion cubic meters of initial in-place volumes of crude bitumen)

Cold Lake Deposit
billion cubic meters of initial in-place volumes of crude bitumen)
Peace Region Deposit
(21.5 billion cubic meters of initial in-place volumes of crude bitumen)

Alberta’s oil sands have been built on a history of technological innovation and continuous improvement in both operational and environmental performance.

  • Improvements in technical efficiency.
  • Improvements in operational performance.
  • Reductions in operating cost profiles.
  • Increases in the reserves base.
  • Reductions in environmental impacts.
  • Improvements in overall environmental performance.
  • Given the depth of the Wabasca/Desmarais oil sands deposit profile, in-situ (drillable and stimulation recovery) technologies will be utilized. In-situ projects resemble heavy oil development and do not require mine pits or tailings ponds.

Global economic recovery will require more energy of all kinds. This means:

An increasing role for renewables

  • But a continuing and ongoing reliance on hydrocarbons.
  • Declining conventional oil and gas production in many areas also means an increasing role for enhanced oil recovery;extraction and processing of bitumen; and other production of non-conventional crude oil and natural gas.

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, approximately half of the world’s investable oil is in Alberta’s oil sands. These represent significant developments – for Alberta and for oil and gas-dependent communities across Alberta.

As development activity ramps up, so too will the need for infrastructure, well-developed service and supply chains, host communities, and a regional workforce that is both adaptable and has the required skill sets to fill and staff emerging opportunities.

Total oil sands production is estimated to be running close to 1.9 million barrels/day, representing almost two-thirds of Alberta’s oil production and approximately half of Canada’s oil production.

According to the Oil Sands Developers Group (2010):

  • Oil sands bitumen production continues to increase and is forecast to reach almost 4 million bpd by 2020.
  • Over the next decade, the oil sands are anticipated to be the single largest source of new oil supply in the world.
  • Each dollar invested in the oil sands creates approximately $9.00 (CDN) worth of economic activity globally, and $6.00 (CDN) of economic activity in Alberta.

Welcome to the Land of Opportunity

Over the next decade, a number of key economic drivers are expected to provide the impetus for higher and sustained levels of regional economic growth and development (jobs, investment and increased local/regional expenditure activity). These include:

Derived Demand – The economic spin-offs and benefits associated with growth in the oil and gas, forestry and tourism and outdoor recreation sectors.
Population Growth – An estimated 3,500 permanent residents in the Wabasca/Desmarais area (2011), and a total permanent population in the Municipal District of Opportunity and Bigstone Cree Nation Reserves of about 5,400 (2011). Both numbers are up about 5.5% over 2006 federal census figures.
In addition, there are currently 1,775 beds in work camps across the region which are generally full in winter and less than half-occupied during the summer months.

This reflects a sizeable temporary workforce or non-resident population in the area, a population that is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.

By 2016, increasing conventional oil and gas activity, together with emerging “oil-in-carbonate” oil sands developments, are expected to further drive population growth – with a total permanent population (M.D. and Bigstone Cree Nation Reserves) of about 5,650 forecast.*

An additional 2,200 temporary or non-resident workers are forecast to be housed in the region’s (expanded) work camps by as early as the peak winter months of 2015/2016.*

*Nichols Applied Management forecasts, September 2011.

  • Increasing Conventional Oil and Gas Production
  • Increasing Oil Sands (“Oil-in-Carbonate”) Development Activity
  • Forecasts of Continued Population and Income Growth
  • Strong Family Formation “Consumption Drivers” – 48% of the population is under the age of 20; 83% under the age of 45.
  • Development of an Increasingly Competitive, Regional Retail/Commercial Centre in Wabasca/Desmarais