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Unconventional resources

Unconventional oil and natural gas require special development considerations because they do not flow naturally through rock.

Services and information

Alberta has potential for unconventional oil and natural gas but this resource is more difficult to produce, requiring special development.

CBM, an unconventional gas, requires special completion, stimulation and/or production techniques; in the process, coal remains in place.

Shale gas is unconventional gas in locations that require special stimulation and/or production techniques to achieve production.


In Alberta there are 3 main types of unconventional resources:

  • Tight gas and oil: natural gas and oil found in sandstone, siltstones and carbonates
  • Shale gas and oil: natural gas and oil locked in fine-grained, organic rich rock
  • Coalbed methane (CBM): natural gas contained in coal

Revenue from non-renewable resources accounts for almost a third of the Government of Alberta's budget and is the largest contributor to the province's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), exports, and capital investments. An estimated one in 12 people in Alberta are employed in the upstream energy industry.

Find out about the potential and development of unconventional resources.