A production limit mandated by the Albertan government is just one of the difficulties facing oil sands producers this year

By Carly Leonida, European Editor

Oil sands producers have faced more than their fair share of challenges in recent years. Despite battling wildfires, pipeline disputes and tough environmental regulations, the sector pumped almost C$13 billion (US$9.7 billion) into the Canadian economy last year, with roughly the same expected for 2019. However, with political tensions running high and a 12-month limit on production levels in place, 2019 may prove their toughest year yet.

Canada is the world’s fifth biggest oil producer, boasting the third-largest proven reserve (Saudi Arabia and Venezuela hold the top two spots) at 171 billion barrels (bbl). The vast majority of this, around 97%, is locked up in oil sands — a naturally occurring mixture of water and bitumen plus sand, clay and other minerals — that can be surface mined or extracted using in-situ techniques such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) depending on the depth of the deposit.
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