Alberta Oil Sands Review

Using currently available technology and under the current economic conditions, there are 167.2 billion barrels of remaining established reserves in the oil sands deposits of Northern Alberta.

There are 315 billion barrels of potentially recoverable oil in the oil sands. Some of this oil would require more favourable economic conditions or new technology to extract and process.

Approximately 80% of oil sands are recoverable through in-situ production, with only 20% recoverable by mining.


Oil sand can be found in several locations around the globe, including Venezuela, the United States and Russia, but the Athabasca deposit in Alberta is the largest, most developed and utilizes the most technologically advanced production processes.

Historically, oil sand was incorrectly referred to as tar sand due to the now outdated and largely ineffective practice of using it for roofing and paving tar (oil sand will not harden suitably for these purposes). Though they appear to be visibly similar, tar and oil sands are different;

Oil sand is a naturally occurring petrochemical that can be upgraded into crude oil and other petroleum products.Tar is synthetically produced from coal, wood, petroleum or peat through destructive distillation, it is generally used to seal against moisture.


With the topic of peak global oil production moving more into the mainstream, you have perhaps heard of the Canadian oil sands. There, huge tracts of remote forested land are strip-mined to obtain a type of thick crude oil called bitumen. The country’s main deposits are found mostly in the western province of Alberta and cover over 140,000 square kilometres — an area larger than England.

How oil is forced from the sands ■■■
All wetlands in the area to be mined must first be drained, and any rivers diverted.Trees, peat moss and soil are scraped away by bulldozer, exposing the sandy deposit. This means that all wildlife in the area is lost or displaced.The top layer of tar-soaked sand is scooped up by colossal steam shovels, each of which burns 16,000 litres (4,200 gallons) of diesel per day, into enormous multi-million dollar dump trucks (that each weigh 40% more than a Boeing 747 airplane) to be hauled to the extraction plant.The sand is then processed at intense temperatures, using much water and natural gas, to separate out the extremely thick bitumen. Impure and too viscous to flow, it must be pre-processed through an “upgrading” process before it can be sent through a pipeline to an oil refinery.However, only about 20% of the sand is shallow enough for it to be scooped up in that manner. The portion of the deposit that is at a depth of more than 100 metres (328 feet) cannot be obtained with open-pit mining. Instead, steam as hot as 538ºC (1,000ºF) is injected into the sand, which reduces the bitumen’s viscosity and allows it to drain and then be pumped up to the surface and pre-processed.Regardless of whether the crude was obtained via pit mining or in-situ production, it must then be further processed at a refinery in order to transform it into usable products like gasoline, jet fuel and other petroleum products.


Oil Sands Information Portal

Providing the public with information about the impact of the oil sands on Alberta’s land, water, air, climate, and biodiversity.


Albertan law generally requires all land disturbed by oil sands operations to be reclaimed by an official company plan. The province also does not have a comprehensive wetlands policy, which makes it difficult to craft rules for what to do with disturbed lands, specifically peatlands, according to Bayley, a study co-author.

The study is the first that measures the cumulative effect of reclaimed mines, and not each mine in isolation, Bayley said.

‘Misleading’ notions of restoration
It is also important for people to understand that mined land is not being restored to its original state, despite industry claims, she said. There have been television ads running in Canada showing people walking through reclaimed areas of flowers and trees that are “completely misleading,” Schindler said.

“The industry can’t tell you how much peat they’ve agreed to have destroyed,” Rooney said. “That’s quite alarming.”

In the 10 mines examined, nearly 30,000 hectares (115 square miles) of peatlands will be lost despite the reclamation efforts and about 3 hectares restored.

In the 10 mines examined, nearly 30,000 hectares (115 square miles) of peatlands will be lost despite the reclamation efforts and about 3 hectares restored.

“A lot of assumption here have never been tested,” Bayley said. “Three hectares is a drop in a bucket.”

  Gary Wellings
I believe selecting and presenting this information in a positive and accessible manner,
will help the people get active in inflicting our government to go solar quicker to save what took millions of years to create.

This destructive nonsense of making money thru oil, by destroying our ecosystem is completely insane.


I don't care what you write,just be nice about it. Your comments are the source of my inspiration to keep writing.

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