Survey of Energy Resources Interim Update 2009
SER 2007 version >Natural Bitumen and Extra-Heavy Oil Country Notes update
The current global economic crisis and environmental concerns are affecting the rate of development of Canada's vast oil sands resource. The higher costs of capital, construction materials, labour and a new provincial royalty scheme which came into effect on 1 January 2009 are playing a significant role in deciding whether projects are scaled down, delayed or possibly suspended. From a financial viewpoint, mergers and acquisitions are occurring, particularly where the smaller market players are involved. Environmentally, the extraction of natural bitumen is complex and historically has required large amounts of water and natural gas - research is under way into ways to reduce both. Furthermore, greenhouse gases are emitted when upgrading technology is used and other methods of extraction are being studied.
In February 2009 the Government of Alberta released Responsible Actions: a Plan for Alberta's Oil Sands, a 20-year strategic plan. The aim of the Plan is to reduce the environmental footprint, to optimise economic growth and to increase the quality of life in oil sands regions.
The Venezuelan Government's Plan Siembra Petrolera (Oil Sowing Plan) 2005-2030 includes six development projects which are timed to take place in two stages: 2005-2012 and 2012-2030.
The Magna Reserva, the first of the six fundamental axes of the Plan, will ultimately certify and increase the oil reserves in the Orinoco Belt. The Orinoco Project, the second axis, concerns development of the Orinoco Belt. It covers the 27 development blocks which are being studied by the foreign, mostly state, oil companies working with PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela). During 2008 it was reported that the project had certified an additional 50 billion barrels of new reserves, about half of which was said to be in the Carabobo block.
In October 2008, a new round of bidding took place, centred specifically on 7 blocks in the Carabobo area. PDVSA will be the majority partner in each project, each of which will consist of integrated upstream and upgrading facilities.