Alberta oil sands production likely to double by 2022 -regulator
* Oil sands output to rise to 3.8 mln bpd in nine years
* 2012 oil sands production averaged 1.9 mln bpd
* Conventional oil output up 14 pct in 2012
CALGARY, Alberta, May 8 (Reuters) - Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board said on Wednesday it expects output from the province's oil sands to double to 3.8 million barrels a day by 2022.
The board, which regulates the province's oil and gas industry, said it expects oil sands production to hit 3.8 million bpd in nine years, up from 1.9 million bpd in 2012.
Canada's oil sands are the world's third-largest crude reserves, behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, but the biggest open to investment by private oil companies.
The expected increase in production in Alberta is based on new projects and expansion of existing projects by companies including Imperial Oil Ltd, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Suncor Energy Inc, among others.
In its annual look at the province's reserves and production expectations, the board also said conventional oil production - which includes shale oil - rose 14 percent to 556,00 bpd in 2012.
The ERCB attributed the rise to increasing production from horizontal wells, many of which use fracking technology, and said it reverses a decades-long trend of decline in conventional crude oil production and reserves.
Alberta's reserves of oil sands bitumen and conventional crude stood at 169.6 billion barrels at the end of 2012, including 167.9 billion barrels of bitumen and conventional reserves of 1.7 billion barrels.
Natural gas reserves stood at 33 trillion cubic feet at the end of last year.