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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
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Saskatchewan

Pump jack in the town of Unity, SaskatchewanSaskatchewan is Canada's second largest crude oil producer with an estimate of 420,000 barrels per day, accounting for 20 percent of Canada’s oil production. It is also the third largest natural gas producer with 255.5 billion cubic feet produced per year.

Saskatchewan’s beginning did not indicate the massive output to come. Before the 1930s, coal mining had been the province’s main natural resource. In 1930, the dollar value of coal production was $968,863 and no other mineral or natural gas was being mined. Also in 1930, Saskatchewan received control over its natural resources by the supreme court of Canada after many years of effort. Now under provincial control, mining and extraction began and in 1935 the natural gas industry emerged.

Provincial Gas and Oil Company BoothLike most of the western provinces, Saskatchewan's oil and gas industry major finds happened during or after the Second World War. The first commercial crude oil discovery was made in 1944. Many of the major pools in the province were discovered was a result of an intensive exploration effort in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. In 1973, the Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Corporation (SaskOil) was established to explore, develop, produce, and market crude oil and natural gas. All holdings of SaskOil were owned by the provincial government. It became a corporation in 1986, ending the domination of the crown corporation over the industry. The majority of the company was then sold to the public and renamed Wascana Energy Incorporated the minority holdings were retained by the provincial government. Wascana was sold to Canadian Occidental Petroleum in 1997. However, approximately 75 percent of oil and gas rights in Saskatchewan are held by the province. These rights were leased to private companies for development and production. The remaining 25 percent of the oil and gas rights were privately owned.

Current Issues

The potential for growth of the petroleum industry exists due to the geological formations of porous rocks that hopefully yield large oil and gas wells. Also needed are strong government and industry base to be able to develop them. Innovations in developing natural gas from coal and crude oil through enhanced oil recovery initiatives. In 2000, PanCanadian (now EnCana) launched a CO2 miscible flood projects at Weyburn, Saskatchewan. With these indicatives, Saskatchewan is hoping to build their petroleum industry sector. However, issues that the industry in Saskatchewan is facing are the same across Canada:  exploration costs are increasing due to developing remote and geologically challenging areas. Ways that the industry can grow is to have government and industry promotion of a strong fiscal environment, implement an industry-funded orphan well program, and promoting an open and consultative approach to oil and gas issues with government departments.


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