If America is Going to Be Number One Oil Producer By 2020, Will Canada Be Number Two?

According to this recent Economist Article on Energy to Spare, America is on track to produce all the energy it needs at home. Considering that Americans burn three and a half times as much energy as the average Chinese person, and hasn’t been able to meet its energy needs in over half a century, this seems like a tall order. Especially since, demand has more than doubled since America was last able to satisfy its energy needs from domestic sources.

However, the International Energy Agency is forecasting that America could become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, when it could be churning out 11.1 Million barrels a day, and be energy self-sufficient by 2035. Coupled with the fact that demand is waning due to increased fuel efficiency, the prediction is that rising production and falling demand will equal out in 2035.

It’s an interesting prediction, but so is the prediction about the Athabasca Oil Sands north of the American border. Right now, production is about 1.3M barrels per day, but estimates are that production can get to 5.1M barrels per day. As per this article in the Economist, on The Sands of Grime, Canada’s oil sands contain over 170 Billion Barrels of oil that can be recovered economically with today’s technology. With the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, it’s quite likely that production can ramp up to make Canada at least fourth in oil production by 2020, with third place a strong possibility. Right now, Venezuelan production for 2020 is estimated at 6.5M barrels per day (Source) and Saudi Arabia, at close to 10M barrels per day, expects it can get to 11 M barrels per day (Source). With the difference between Canadian production estimates and Venezuelan production estimates for 2020 less than 30%, it would only take a 15% increase in Canadian production and a 15% decrease in Venezuelan production for Canada to edge in third.

Unless Saudi Arabian reserves are less than estimated, or Canadian production ramps up exponentially beyond expectations, we probably won’t make number two, but number three is a strong possibility.