The final deficit number for Alberta's 2012 fiscal year is $2.8 billion, Finance Minister Doug Horner reported Thursday.
That's $2 billion more than what had been projected at budget, but less than the $4 billion deficit projected a few months earlier.
Horner, speaking in Calgary, said the wildly varying estimates will likely continue until Alberta breaks up a continental oil production bottleneck termed the "bitumen bubble" that is driving down the price of the oilsands product.
"The reality is this (oil price) differential and the movement within that differential is something that no one has seen in the past in terms of the volatility," said Horner.
"We're going to continue to see that volatility, I think, over the course of the next little while until we are able to provide some stable market access."
Premier Alison Redford's government says Alberta is getting less than before for its oilsands bitumen because oil production is growing in the United States and Alberta has virtually nowhere else to sell its oil than to the U.S.
Redford is pushing to get more oil delivered by pipeline to refineries on the Gulf Coast in Texas through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and through pipelines to the east and west coasts in Canada.
Non-renewable resource revenues brought in $7.6 billion, about $3.6 billion less than expected, to Alberta in 2012.
Total revenue was $38.6 billion, almost $2 billion less than expected.
Total spending was $41.4 billion, just $161 million higher than planned.