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Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction

Energy is a key driver of Alberta's economy. The province's oil sands are the third largest proven crude oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Only about 3.4% of these oil sands can be mined. The remaining reserves are too deep and must be extracted by other methods. In 2014, the province also produced 33.8 million tonnes of raw coal-enough to fill Calgary's Saddledome every two days. Alberta also produces about 67.0% of Canada's natural gas.

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, the mining and oil and gas extraction industry made up 27.4% of Alberta's GDP. This represents a 4.1% increase from 2013.

Alberta’s GDP
Increase from 2013
  • exploring for and producing crude petroleum and natural gas
  • drilling and equipping wells
  • mining for coal or metal ore
  • support activities for the industry

The mining and oil and gas extraction industry employed 155,300 people in 2015. This is a decrease of 15,900 jobs (9.3%) from 2013.


116,600 men worked in the industry in 2015 (down 11.9% from 2013).


38,700 women worked in the industry in 2015 (down 0.3% from 2013).

Average Wage
Mining and Oil and Gas Extraction
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2015 hourly wage of $40.81 for the mining and oil and gas extraction industry was above the provincial average of $29.02.
Industry Performance

Energy commodities make up the largest share of Alberta's exports, with 99.0% of them going to the U.S. The record decline in global oil prices between 2014 and 2016 challenged the industry. In 2015, exports fell by 31.7% from the previous year to $62.1 billion. Oil and gas investment declined by 37.0% in 2015 and is expected to contract by another 20.0% in 2016 before recovering gradually in 2017.

The huge shale gas reserves in the U.S. continue to keep natural gas prices low enough to discourage capital spending by energy producers. Oil and gas drilling activity through March 2016 was more than 50.0% below 2015 levels.

In 2015 the Alberta government announced plans to replace coal-fired electricity generation with renewable energy and natural gas-fired electricity generation by 2030.

Industry Outlook

The industry will continue to face challenges until 2017, when crude oil prices are expected to rise and expanding production from current investments are forecast to make the industry more profitable. This will be due, in part, to reduced market surpluses. The Conference Board of Canada, a non-profit research organization, predicts that the price of oil will increase as market surpluses begin to wane. Furthermore, it forecasts that Alberta industry profits will rise from less than $1 billion in 2017 to more than $5 billion in 2020.

The price of moving the product to market will affect the industry's bottom line. A delay in pipeline expansions will mean continued higher rail shipment costs. Transportation is a barrier to accessing to new markets beyond North America.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.1% from 2016 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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