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Charting a Course – Oil and Gas

Oil and gas extraction is a relatively small water user nationally, with the majority of current production and related water use located in Alberta. Water use is found predominantly in  nonconventional oil and gas extraction, including the oil sands subsector. The overall oil and gas sector’s water intake showed an uneven trend between 2001 and 2005, with both increases and decreases. Subsector variation is evident with some facing decline in the period (the water intake for conventional oil dropped 18%) and some trending up (water intake in unconventional gas rose 68%). Water-use data was only available from 2001 onward, and so water use prior to 2001 is estimated based on this data.

Overall, the water-use intensity of the oil and gas sector has been dropping over time (Figure 13). The oil and gas sector as a whole has the lowest water-use intensity of the sectors covered in
this study due to its relatively large economic output (23% of output of all sectors) compared with a relatively small amount of water use (0.6% of water intake of sectors covered in this study). In 2005 the largest water user in this sector was oil sands mining, which used 66% of total water intake by the sector, but only accounted for 12% of the sector’s overall economic output, resulting in the highest water-use intensity of the subsectors. In contrast, conventional oil and natural gas, which made up the majority of the economic output in this sector at 64% in 2005, was one of the lowest water users in terms of intake (27%) in 2005, resulting in the lowest water-use intensity.

Figure 13: Water Intake, Economic Output, and Water-Use Intensity in Oil and Gas

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Select a natural resource sector below to see its water use, including water intensity, water intake, and economic output.
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Pulp and Paper
Oil and Gas
Thermal Electricity