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Alberta’s oil centre
People migrated from Siberia to Canada 15,000 years ago followed by Norsemen settling in Newfoundland in 1000 AD. The first modern Europeans then arrived in 1497 and 1534, claiming areas for England and France.
In 1583 the first British colony was established in Newfoundland and traders began to move inland. As aboriginal numbers declined mostly due to disease, battles were fought between the French in Quebec and the British. In 1763 most areas were ceded to the UK but after US independence territories south of the Great Lakes became part of the USA. Peace was finally achieved in 1815.
Immigration increased and a single Canadian government began to develop leading to an autonomous federal Dominion in 1873 with 10 provinces and 3 territories.
Canada now has a strong economy dominated by the service industry, but with forestry and oil as important sectors.
Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia, with the longest coastline and the northernmost settlement.
There are 8 forest regions, including extensive forest on the Canadian Shield and over 2 mm lakes. Much of the Canadian Arctic is covered by ice and permafrost. The country is geologically active with earthquakes and volcanoes.
Most oil and gas is produced in Alberta, which reached a maximum for conventional oil in 1998. However, the Athabasca oil sands in northeast Alberta (and small parts of Saskatchewan) now represent a huge industry based in Fort McMurray. Bitumen trapped in shallow sands is drilled and produced using steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) or directly mined and refined to make synthetic oil.
Canada's oil production is thus forecast by Globalshift to grow significantly as new such projects are developed and there is also considerable potential for shale oil production from formations comparable to those exploited in the USA.
Conventional gas production from Alberta is also near peak but shale gas and coal bed methane, pioneered in neighbouring US states, have been barely exploited.
Canada’s offshore production originates from Newfoundland (oil) and Nova Scotia (mostly gas). Fields developed in this harsh climate produce a small but increasing share of output. Large volumes of oil and gas also probably lie in Arctic Canada, onshore and offshore, but only small volumes have so far been developed due to the cost and environmental implications.
Map and National Flag
Land area (sq kms)
Oil prod (000s b/d)
Gas prod (bcm/yr)
Oil cons (000s b/d)
Gas cons (bcm/yr)
Canada has a parliamentary system within a constitutional monarchy. The UK monarch is head of state represented by the Governor General of Canada. However, executive powers are directed by the Cabinet responsible to the elected House of Commons and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister who is head of government.
The Senate has 105 members, and the House of Commons has 338 members.
Canada has a federal structure and the provinces have jurisdiction over oil and gas development. However, the federal government shares responsibility with the National Energy Board (NEB) regulating pipelines, energy development and trade.
Another organisation, Natural Resources Canada, encourages the development and use of natural resources.
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