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Alberta sets another record for oil production as Trans Mountain expansion opening looms

Suncor's Fort Hills oilsands facility is seen in this file photo. (Kyle Bakx/CBC - image credit)
Suncor's Fort Hills oilsands facility is seen in this file photo. (Kyle Bakx/CBC - image credit)

Oil production in Alberta continues to ramp up and the province set another record in February, as the long-awaited Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is expected to soon come online.

Average daily output for the month rose by nearly three per cent, year over year, to 3.95 million barrels per day.

That's the most oil Alberta has ever produced in February.

"The increased production reflects relatively strong prices and a build up in anticipation of the Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline starting to ship oil in the coming months," reads a report released Wednesday by ATB Financial.

The latest monthly data from the Alberta Energy Regulator reflects a ongoing upward trend in the province's oil production.

Alberta has averaged nearly 117 million barrels per month of oil production over the past year.

That's more than double what the province was producing 15 years ago.

A recent forecast suggested Canada could lead the world in oil-production growth this year, driven largely by Alberta's oilsands.

The forecast suggests the country's oil production could climb by 10 per cent and reach an all-time high of 5.3 million barrels per day by the end of 2024.

The Trans Mountain expansion project will help move much of that oil from Alberta to the West Coast for export. The expansion will boost the pipeline's capacity to 890,000 barrels per day, up from 300,000 barrels per day.

Amid legal uncertainty surrounding the project in 2018, the federal government bought the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in an effort to ensure the expansion went ahead.

At that time, the expansion project had an estimated $7.4-billion price tag.

It has since ballooned to $34 billion.

The federal Crown corporation that owns Trans Mountain said Wednesday the expanded pipeline is set to begin commercial operations on May 1.