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Alberta Oil Patch Faces Prospect of ‘Peak Demand’

Shaken by shale oil production in the United States, softening demand from China and Europe, and rising global concern about climate change, Canada’s tar sands/oil sands industry is scrambling for operational efficiencies and fretting about “peak demand.” Falling oil prices over the last three months reflect “fundamental changes in supply and demand trends that are upsetting a long-held expectation of ever-tightening crude supplies, a conviction that prevailed for much of the past decade,” McCarthy and Lewis write. “For the Alberta energy industry, weaker prices mean oil sands companies can no longer count on constantly rising prices to cover ever-increasing costs of massive megaprojects.” The result in Calgary is “a sense of foreboding in the city’s oil towers,” with “a less exuberant outlook for oil sands growth” and “the notion of ‘peak demand’…gaining currency.”