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Industry and economy

Alberta's economy is diversifying to create more stable economic growth.

  • Manufacturing and business services, now at almost 18% of gross domestic product, were under 12% 20 years ago.
  • Energy now is one-quarter of Alberta's gross domestic product. 20 years ago it was more than one-third. 
  • Almost 7,500 miles of fibre and wireless technology in Alberta SuperNet's broadband service link 4,200 facilities in 429 communities across Alberta.
  • Alberta's forests support the province's 3rd-largest industry, and provide opportunities for hunting, wildlife viewing and recreation.
  • The cost of doing business in Alberta's 2 major cities, Edmonton and Calgary, is among the most competitive in North America — according to KPMG's 2006 guide to international business costs, Competitive Alternatives.

Energy

  • Oil and gas produce one-quarter of Alberta's gross domestic product, almost 70% of our exports and 35% of Alberta government revenues. The energy industry accounts for 275,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • Alberta's hydrocarbon resources include conventional oil, oil sands, natural gas, coal and coal bed methane (natural gas found in coal seams). Alberta's coal seams are estimated to hold up to 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • The Alberta government invests about C$30 (or US$26) million per year in energy research and technology, including clean coal technologies, carbon dioxide management, improved oil and gas recovery, bitumen upgrading, alternative and renewable energy technologies, and water management.

    Exchange rate based on C$1 = US$0.85
  • For more information please visit Alberta's Drilling Activity Report and Alberta Energy Quick Facts

Oil sands

  • Canada has the world's 2nd-largest proven crude oil reserves. Most reserves are in Alberta's oil sands — approximately 170.4 billion barrels.
  • Oil sands are mixtures of water, sand, clay and bitumen, a heavy crude oil that can be separated to yield lighter crude. Conventional oil is found throughout Alberta; oil sands only in the north, underlying 140,200 square kilometres.
  • In 2008, Alberta exported 1.51 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil to the U.S., supplying 15% of U.S. crude oil imports, or 8% of U.S. oil demand (EIA).
    In the fiscal year 2008/09, the Alberta government collected $3 billion in royalties from oil sands projects.
  • In 2008, estimated oil sands investment reached a record-high $19.2 billion, a 14% increase over the 2007 level.
  • Oil sands accounts for more than two-thirds of investment in the province. $100 billion worth of oil sands investment generates approximately $1 trillion worth of economic activity.
  • Learn more about the oil sands
  • Oil sands stats and facts

Natural gas

  • Alberta/Canada has been the largest gas supplier to the US for 6 years in a row.
  • Canada is the world's 3rd-largest natural gas producer and 2nd-largest exporter. About 55% of Canada's 6.4 trillion cubic feet produced in 2004 went to the US. Natural gas and natural gas liquids were 40% of Alberta's exports in 2005. One billion cubic feet of natural gas can meet the energy needs of 8,000 northern climate homes for a year. In 2005, Alberta produced about 13.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, and 5 trillion cubic feet per year. That is almost 80% of Canada's natural gas.
  • Natural gas stats and facts

Electricity

  • About half of Alberta's electricity is generated from coal. An increasing number of plants are fuelled by natural gas. Generation from renewable resources — hydro, biomass (wood) and wind power — is up almost 50% since 1998, to over 1,350 megawatts a year.
  • Electricity stats

Coal

  • Alberta holds 70% of Canada's coal reserves. Nine major coal mines produce 27 - 30 million metric tonnes of marketable coal a year.
  • Alberta's low sulphur coal burns cleaner, and new coal-burning technologies generate electricity cleanly and efficiently. The Genesee 3 coal-fired plant near Edmonton is Canada's most technologically advanced.
  • Coal stats

Petrochemicals

  • Alberta is Canada's leading petrochemicals manufacturer, producing over C$9 (or US$7.7) billion in products and C$5.3 (or US$4.5) billion in exports yearly. Some products made from petrochemicals include hard hats, skateboard wheels, camera film, computer keys, detergents, moulding and chewing gum.
  • Alberta is home to 4 petrochemical plants with a combined annual production capacity of 8.6 billion pounds. The plants at Joffre and Fort Saskatchewan are the world's largest.

    Exchange rate based on C$1 = US$0.85
  • Petrochemicals stats
  • Petrochemical factsheet (PDF)

Agriculture

  • Alberta uses more land than the state of Nebraska (52 million acres or 81,000 square miles) for crop and livestock production (or about 30% of Alberta's land area).
  • Alberta is Canada's 2nd-largest agricultural producer, earning 22% of Canada's farm cash receipts. Agriculture added C$2.8 (or US$2.4) billion to Alberta's gross domestic product in 2004.
  • In 2005, agri-food trade accounted for C$5 (or US$4.3) billion in Alberta exports. Primary commodity exports were valued at about C$1.9 (or US$1.6) billion. Processed agri-food products were valued at C$3.1 (or US$2.6) billion.

Cattle country

  • Alberta leads Canada in cattle and calf inventories, with 5.9 million head as of January 2006 (or 40% of the Canadian total).
  • Cattle production was 39% of Alberta's 2005 total farm cash receipts.
  • Beef is Alberta's number one agri-food export or C$1.4 (or US$1.2) billion in 2005.
  • Beef production reached a record high in 2004. Carcass and box beef production increased nearly 25% to about 891,000 tonnes.
  • In 2005, Alberta committed C$38 (or US$32) million to prion research, the proteins best known for their link to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or mad cow disease).

Other livestock

  • Alberta has 14% of Canada's total hog receipts.
  • In 2004, provincial support totaling C$6.6 (or US$5.6) million was made available to sheep, goat, deer, elk, reindeer and bison producers to help maintain their herds.
  • Alberta recently completed construction on a C$14 (or US$12) million state-of-the-art biocontainment lab, putting Alberta on the cutting edge of animal disease detection and research.
  • In 2004, Alberta invested C$13 (or US$11) million in the Alberta Poultry Research Center in a 5-year partnership with the University of Alberta and other industry and government partners.

Crops  

  • In 2005, Alberta farmers produced just over one-third of Canada's production of major field crops (wheat, oats, barley, canola, dry peas).
  • The total irrigation area in Alberta (including irrigation districts and private irrigation) is about 1.63 million acres, which accounts for over 5% of Alberta's total cultivated land.
  • Sugar beets are one of the main irrigated crops. Alberta is the only province to produce sugar from sugar beets.
  • Construction is underway in Alberta on Canada's first food-processing business incubator, which will provide processing space, shared administrative services, shared storage and mentoring to develop new ventures.

    Exchange rate based on C$1 = US$0.85

Forestry

  • Forests cover 38 million hectares in Alberta, nearly 60 per cent of the province. Alberta's forests grow an estimated 44.5 million cubic metres of wood per year.
  • The forest industry provides $9 billion to Alberta's economy and employs 38,000 Albertans in primary and secondary forest products manufacturing.
  • Alberta's forests are a popular destination for hunters, fishers, hikers and off-highway vehicles.
  • Approximately 645 registered professional foresters and 574 registered professional forest technologists practise forestry in Alberta.
  • Alberta's forest companies are required by law to reforest what they harvest and replant an average of 75 million coniferous seedlings each year in Alberta.

Diversification

Innovation

  • Sponsored research to Alberta universities reached more than C$650 (or US$553) million in 2004-05.
  • Alberta government-sponsored research doubled to almost C$200 (or US$170) million since 1998.
  • Alberta created endowment funds for ongoing medical, science and engineering research.
  • Research by industry and non-profit agencies doubled over the last 5 years.
  • Separate government-supported research institutes are dedicated to energy, information technology, forestry, agriculture, science and engineering. In 1921, the Alberta Research Council became Canada's 1st provincial research organization. This not-for-profit institute specializes in applied research and commercialization. Successes include developing the technology to extract oil from Alberta's oil sands resources.

Manufacturing

  • Manufacturing shipments increased by 108% between 1995 and 2005 to reach C$59 (or US$50) billion. Manufacturing now represents 9.9% of Alberta's gross domestic product.
  • Alberta information and communication technology companies generated revenues of C$8.7 (or US$7.4) billion and exports worth C$1.8 (or US$1.5) billion in 2004. Products include computer equipment, software, semiconductors, navigational and medical instruments, and telecommunication equipment.
  • Building products generated 2004 sales of C$11 (or US$9) billion for primary forest products like lumber, secondary wood products (e.g. plywood), and non-wood building products (e.g. Portland cement and fiberglass insulation).
  • Other manufacturing sectors include primary and fabricated metals, machinery, plastics, furniture and fixtures.

Services

  • The architectural, engineering and construction sector generates over C$27 (or US$23) billion in revenues by applying its expertise to coal extraction and processing, electricity generation and cogeneration, infrastructure and transportation, energy resource development, telecommunications, construction management and winter construction technology.

Processing

  • With more than 600 companies, Alberta's food-processing sector is one of Alberta's largest manufacturing sectors. Generating C$9.6 (or US$8.2) billion of Alberta's total manufacturing shipments, the sector is the 3rd-largest behind the petroleum and coal products industries and chemical manufacturing.

    Exchange rate based on C$1 = US$0.85