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Alberta’s Oil Sands CGC1P. The Oil Sands AKA Tar Sands Large deposits of bitumen (extremely heavy crude oil) –A mix of crude bitumen (semi-solid oil),

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Presentation on theme: "Alberta’s Oil Sands CGC1P. The Oil Sands AKA Tar Sands Large deposits of bitumen (extremely heavy crude oil) –A mix of crude bitumen (semi-solid oil),"— Presentation transcript:

1 Alberta’s Oil Sands CGC1P

2 The Oil Sands AKA Tar Sands Large deposits of bitumen (extremely heavy crude oil) –A mix of crude bitumen (semi-solid oil), sand, clay, and water Located in northeastern Alberta, centred around Fort McMurray


4 The Oil Sands The largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world –These oil sand deposits lie under 141,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and muskeg –Contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum As of 2012, accounts for over 56% of Canada’s total oil production

5 Traditional Oil Extraction Traditionally, oil is extracted by drilling down into the earth The oil sits in pockets under the earth, like giant underground lakes Once a hole is drilled down into the oil deposit, the oil is pumped up to the surface

6 The Oil Sands Since the oil in Alberta is not in liquid form, it can’t be pumped –It must be extracted differently –The oil must also be separated from the sand and clay after it has been extracted Tarsands oil is much more expensive to extract and process than traditional liquid oil reserves

7 Extracting the Oil Two extraction methods: –In situ (Latin, meaning "in place") extraction, when the bitumen occurs deeper within the ground – accounts for 80% of the bitumen extracted Uses specialized techniques such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) –Surface or open-pit mining, when the bitumen is closer to the surface – accounts for 20% of the bitumen extracted Uses huge hydraulic power shovels and 400-ton heavy hauler trucks

8 Economic Impact The oil sands currently provides jobs for 514,000 people across Canada (both directly and indirectly) and this is expected to grow to over 800,000 jobs in 2028 Between 2014 and 2038 oil sands investment, re-investment and operating revenues are expected to be $3.8 trillion for Canada The oil sands industry will pay an estimated $1.5 trillion in provincial ($302 billion) and federal ($574 billion) taxes and provincial royalties ($590 billion) over the next 25 years

9 Comparing the Values of Canada’s Natural Resources Industries Industry# of jobsValue to GDP Oil Sands*500,000$91 billion Mining400,000$52.6 billion Forestry216,500 directly (+ another 350,000 indirectly) $19.8 billion Fishing120,000$5 billion *Remember this is just over half of Canada’s overall oil production

10 The Downside…

11 From this… To this…

12 Environmental Destruction As of January 2013, oilsands mining operations have disturbed 715 square kilometres of boreal forest

13 Tailings Ponds Tailings are a toxic waste byproduct from the oilsands extraction processes Encounters between wildlife and tailings ponds are hazardous –Waterfowl that land on oilsands tailings ponds can become coated in oil, causing them to sink to the bottom –In 2010, a study estimated that about 2,000 birds die per year in Alberta oilsands tailings ponds –That year, oilsands company Syncrude paid a $3- million fine for the deaths of 1,600 ducks at one of its tailings ponds in 2008


15 Tailings Ponds Tailings ponds leak gradually –A federal study found evidence that strongly suggested that the contents of Alberta's tailing ponds are seeping into the Athabasca River –Pollution in the oil sands has been linked to elevated cancer rates in nearby Fort Chipewyan

16 Water Use Oilsands operators used approximately 170 million cubic meters of water in 2011, equivalent to the residential water use of 1.7 million Canadians Oilsands operations return almost none of the water they use to the natural cycle

17 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Average greenhouse gas emissions for oilsands extraction and upgrading are estimated to be 3.2 to 4.5 times as intensive per barrel as for conventional crude oil produced in Canada or the United States –About 7% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions came from oilsands plants and upgraders in 2010 –If Alberta were a country, its per capita greenhouse gas emissions would be higher than any other country in the world

18 Air Pollution In addition to greenhouse gases, oilsands operations release large volumes of pollutants into the air Producing a barrel of bitumen creates more than twice as much nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide emissions as producing a barrel of conventional oil –Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are major contributors to acid rain formation

19 What’s Next Oil prices have been falling over the last several months –A barrel of bitumen is worth around 50% less now than it would have been worth in mid-June Low oil prices mean that the costly oilsands projects may not be economically viable At the same time, massive investments in the oilsands are being made, and billions of taxpayer dollars continue to fund the development and operating costs of the oilsands

20 What’s Next Increase the rate of development of the tarsands? Continue extraction at a stable, controlled rate? Reduce the scale of tarsands operations? Shut down the tarsands altogether?

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