An oilfield worker walks past the Statoil oil sands facility near Conklin, Alberta, November 3, 2011. Statoil plans an expansion of their oil sands operation that will let them produce 60,000 barrels of oil per day by 2016.
Credits: REUTERS/TODD KOROL
A report from RBC Economics says Alberta's economy launched into a "remarkable expansion phase" in 2011, with real GDP reaching an estimated 4.2%, and the momentum expected to continue in 2012-13 at 3.9%.
"We're expecting strong investment in terms of oil production and pipeline," said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist with RBC.
"Alberta is expected to be one of the leaders in overall growth (in 2012)."
The national average for GDP growth last year was 2.5%; it's expected to remain similar at 2.6% for 2012-13, said Ferley.
Last year, while still considered a leader in growth, Alberta was edged out slightly by Saskatchewan -- benefitting from potash and high grain prices -- and Newfoundland, benefitting greatly from oil.
With 4.7% growth forecast for next year, only Saskatchewan is expected to exceed Alberta's growth.
But while oil is doing well, Alberta's economy is taking a hit with natural gas, reports RBC -- a sentiment echoed by Greg Stringham, vice-president for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
"It's a fairly accurate portrayal of what's happening in the oil business," said Stringham of the report, but added, "Natural gas still struggles."
Prices are at a record low for the last decade, he said.
However, Stringham said energy sector investments are expected to rise to pre-recessionary levels in 2012.
The RBC report shows Alberta was churning out jobs last year, with 99,000 new jobs added -- more than half of all jobs created in the country.
It said rapid production in unconventional oil is being boosted by massive investments in the oilsands, with unconventional output expected to surge by 16% this year.