Wood Mackenzie, the international energy consultancy, is highlighting 14 North American oil and gas developments to monitor in 2014. Some of them involve markets and transportation, some pertain to geology and others are about engineering.
Here are a few that are important for Canada's oil patch.
The Duvernay: This liquids-rich natural gas play in Alberta has been the target of a land rush and its potential has generated much buzz. One big advantage for companies with acreage there is its proximity to the oil sands, where condensate is needed as a thinning agent for bitumen so it can move in pipelines.
Wood Mackenzie expects activity to heat up in the northwestern Alberta region, with larger companies, including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Encana Corp., shifting from delineation of reserves to development. It forecast 150 wells being brought onto production in 2014, up 50 from last year.
LNG: Despite the hopes of British Columbia's government and gas producers looking to wring more value out of the province's resources, WoodMac does not foresee any of the proponents of liquefied natural gas plants on Canada's West Coast making final investment decisions this year. There is fertile ground for "corporate realignment" within the various proposals as backers compete to supply an estimated five billion cubic feet a day within 15 years, it said. Already, some of the domestic and international players have sold out of some proposals or bought into others.
Bakken crude-by-rail shipments: The consultancy sees a 10-per-cent increase in Bakken light-crude shipments moving by train, even after recent derailments and explosions that have sparked warnings from regulators about the light oil's volatile nature and calls for more stringent rules and enforcement. This year, 80 per cent of North Dakota oil will move to market by train as crude production in the state tops 1.1 million barrels per day, it said.
This has implications for Canada, as producers of conventional light and synthetic crude from the oil sands compete for limited capacity to get their supplies to the same markets, especially in the Eastern part of the continent.