Athabasca Oil Sands

Athabasca Oil Sands

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The Athabasca oil sands (historically known as the Athabasca tar sands, although there is no tar
Tar
Tar is modified pitch produced primarily from the wood and roots of pine by destructive distillation under pyrolysis. Production and trade in tar was a major contributor in the economies of Northern Europe and Colonial America. Its main use was in preserving wooden vessels against rot. The largest...

 present) are large deposits of bitumen, or extremely heavy crude oil
Heavy crude oil
Heavy crude oil or extra heavy crude oil is any type of crude oil which does not flow easily. It is referred to as "heavy" because its density or specific gravity is higher than that of light crude oil. Heavy crude oil has been defined as any liquid petroleum with an API gravity less than 20°.Extra...

, located in northeastern Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 - roughly centred on the boomtown
Boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

 of Fort McMurray. These oil sands, hosted in the McMurray Formation
McMurray Formation
The McMurray Formation is a stratigraphical unit of Cretaceous age in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.It takes the name from Fort McMurray, and was first described in the outcrop occurring on the banks of the Athabasca River by F.H...

, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water. The Athabasca deposit is the largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River
Peace River, Alberta
Peace River is a town in northwestern Alberta, Canada, situated along the banks of the Peace River, at its confluence with the Smoky River, the Heart River and Pat's Creek. It is located northwest of Edmonton, and northeast of Grande Prairie, along Highway 2. The Peace River townsite is nearly ...

 and Cold Lake deposits
Cold Lake oil sands
The Cold Lake oil sands are a large deposit of oil sands located near Cold Lake, Alberta.Cold Lake is east of Alberta's capital, Edmonton, near Alberta's border with Saskatchewan, and a small portion of the Cold Lake field lies in Saskatchewan.In 1980 a plant in Cold Lake was one of just two oil...

.

Together, these oil sand deposits lie under 141000 square kilometres (54,440.4 sq mi) of sparsely populated boreal forest and muskeg
Muskeg
Muskeg is an acidic soil type common in Arctic and boreal areas, although it is found in other northern climates as well. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland but muskeg is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while 'bog' is common elsewhere. The term is of Cree origin, maskek...

 (peat bogs) and contain about 1.7 Toilbbl of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

. Although the CEO of Shell Canada, Clive Mather, estimates Canada's reserves to be 2 Toilbbl or more, essentially 8 times more than Saudi Arabia, the IEA (International Energy Agency) lists Canada's reserves as being 178 Goilbbl.

With modern unconventional oil production technology, at least 10% of these deposits, or about 170 Goilbbl were considered to be economically recoverable at 2006 prices, making Canada's total proven reserves
Proven reserves
Proven reserves, also called proved reserves, measured reserves, 1P, and Reserves, are business or political terms regarding fossil fuel energy sources....

 the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

's. The Athabasca deposit is the only large oil sands reservoir in the world which is suitable for large-scale surface mining
Surface mining
Surface mining , is a type of mining in which soil and rock overlying the mineral deposit are removed...

, although most of it can only be produced using more recently developed in-situ technology.

History


The Athabasca oil sands are named after the Athabasca River
Athabasca River
The Athabasca River originates from the Columbia Glacier of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada...

 which cuts through the heart of the deposit, and traces of the heavy oil are readily observed on the river banks. Historically, the bitumen was used by the indigenous Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 and Dene
Dene
The Dene are an aboriginal group of First Nations who live in the northern boreal and Arctic regions of Canada. The Dené speak Northern Athabaskan languages. Dene is the common Athabaskan word for "people" . The term "Dene" has two usages...

 Aboriginal peoples
Aboriginal peoples in Canada
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" have fallen into disuse in Canada and are commonly considered pejorative....

 to waterproof their canoes. The oil deposits are located within the boundaries of Treaty 8
Treaty 8
Treaty 8 was an agreement signed on June 21, 1899, between Queen Victoria and various First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area. The Treaty was signed just south of present-day Grouard, Alberta.-Treaty:...

, and several First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 of the area are involved with the sands.


The Athabasca oil sands first came to the attention of European fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

rs in 1719 when Wa-pa-su, a Cree trader, brought a sample of bituminous sands to the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 post at York Factory on Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay
Hudson Bay , sometimes called Hudson's Bay, is a large body of saltwater in northeastern Canada. It drains a very large area, about , that includes parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, most of Manitoba, southeastern Nunavut, as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota,...

 where Henry Kelsey
Henry Kelsey
Henry Kelsey , aka the Boy Kelsey, was an English fur trader, explorer, and sailor who played an important role in establishing the Hudson's Bay Company. Kelsey was born and married in East Greenwich, south-east of central London...

 was the manager. In 1778, Peter Pond
Peter Pond
Peter Pond was born in Milford, Connecticut. He was a soldier with a Connecticut regiment, a fur trader, a founding member of the North West Company, an explorer and a cartographer.-Biography:...

, another fur trader and a founder of the rival North West Company
North West Company
The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what was to become Western Canada...

, became the first European to see the Athabasca deposits after discovering the Methye Portage
Methye Portage
The Methye Portage or Portage La Loche in northwestern Saskatchewan was one of the most important portages in the old fur-trade route across Canada. It connected the Mackenzie River basin to rivers that ran east to the Atlantic. It was reached by Peter Pond in 1778 and abandoned in 1883 when...

 which allowed access to the rich fur resources of the Athabasca River system from the Hudson Bay watershed.

In 1788, fur trader Alexander MacKenzie (who later discovered routes to both the Arctic
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

s from this area) wrote: "At about 24 miles (38.6 km) from the fork (of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers) are some bituminous fountains into which a pole of 20 feet (6.1 m) long may be inserted without the least resistance. The bitumen is in a fluid state and when mixed with gum, the resinous substance collected from the spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 fir, it serves to gum the Indians' canoes." He was followed in 1799 by map maker David Thompson
David Thompson (explorer)
David Thompson was an English-Canadian fur trader, surveyor, and map-maker, known to some native peoples as "Koo-Koo-Sint" or "the Stargazer"...

 and in 1819 by British Naval officer John Franklin
John Franklin
Rear-Admiral Sir John Franklin KCH FRGS RN was a British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer. Franklin also served as governor of Tasmania for several years. In his last expedition, he disappeared while attempting to chart and navigate a section of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic...

.

John Richardson
John Richardson (naturalist)
Sir John Richardson was a Scottish naval surgeon, naturalist and arctic explorer.Richardson was born at Dumfries. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and became a surgeon in the navy in 1807. He traveled with John Franklin in search of the Northwest Passage on the Coppermine Expedition of...

 did the first geological assessment of the oil sands in 1848 on his way north to search for Franklin's lost expedition
Franklin's lost expedition
Franklin's lost expedition was a doomed British voyage of Arctic exploration led by Captain Sir John Franklin that departed England in 1845. A Royal Navy officer and experienced explorer, Franklin had served on three previous Arctic expeditions, the latter two as commanding officer...

. The first government-sponsored survey of the oil sands was initiated in 1875 by John Macoun
John Macoun
John Macoun was an Irish-born Canadian naturalist.- Early life :Macoun was born in Magheralin, County Down, Ireland in 1831, the third child of James Macoun and Anne Jane Nevin. In 1850 the worsening economic situation in Ireland led his family to emigrate to Canada, where he settled in Seymour...

, and in 1883, G.C. Hoffman of the Geological Survey of Canada tried separating the bitumen from oil sand with the use of water and reported that it separated readily. In 1888, Robert Bell
Robert Bell (geologist)
Robert Bell FRSC MD was a Canadian geologist, professor and civil servant. He is considered Canada’s greatest exploring scientist, having named over 3,000 geographical features.-Personal life:...

, the director of the Geological Survey of Canada, reported to a Senate Committee that "The evidence ... points to the existence in the Athabasca and Mackenzie valleys of the most extensive petroleum field in America, if not the world."

In 1926, Karl Clark
Karl Clark (chemist)
Karl Clark was a chemist and oil sand researcher. He is best known for perfecting a process that uses hot water to separate oil from tar sands....

 of the University of Alberta perfected a hot water separation process which became the basis of today's thermal extraction process. Several attempts to implement it had varying degrees of success, but it was 1967 before the first commercially viable operation began with the opening of the Great Canadian Oil Sands (now Suncor) plant using surfactant
Surfactant
Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of a liquid, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid...

s in the separation process developed by Earl W. Malmberg of Sun Oil Company.

Oil sands production


Commercial production of oil from the Athabasca oil sands began in 1967, when Great Canadian Oil Sands Limited (then a subsidiary of Sun Oil Company but now an independent company known as Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

) opened its first mine, producing 30000 oilbbl/d of synthetic crude oil. Development was inhibited by declining world oil prices, and the second mine, operated by the Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

 consortium, did not begin operating until 1978, after the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 sparked investor interest.

However, the price of oil subsided afterwards, and although the 1979 energy crisis
1979 energy crisis
The 1979 oil crisis in the United States occurred in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Amid massive protests, the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled his country in early 1979 and the Ayatollah Khomeini soon became the new leader of Iran. Protests severely disrupted the Iranian oil...

 caused oil prices to peak again, introduction of the National Energy Program
National Energy Program
The National Energy Program was an energy policy of the Government of Canada. It was created under the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau by Minister of Energy Marc Lalonde in 1980, and administered by the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.-Description:The NEP was...

 by Pierre Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

 discouraged foreign investment in the Canadian oil industry. During the 1980s, oil prices declined to very low levels
1980s oil glut
The 1980s oil glut was a serious surplus of crude oil caused by falling demand following the 1970s Energy Crisis. The world price of oil, which had peaked in 1980 at over US$35 per barrel , fell in 1986 from $27 to below $10...

, causing considerable retrenchment in the oil industry, and the third mine, operated by Shell Canada
Shell Canada
Shell Canada Limited is the subsidiary of Dutch-based Royal Dutch Shell and one of Canada's largest integrated oil companies. Exploration and production of oil, natural gas and sulphur is a major part of its business, as well as the marketing of gasoline and related products through the company's...

, did not begin operating until 2003. However, as a result of oil price increases since 2003, the existing mines have been greatly expanded and new ones are being planned.

According to the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, 2005 production of crude bitumen in the Athabasca oil sands was as follows:
2005 Production m3/day bbl/day
Suncor Mine 31,000 195,000
Syncrude Mine 41,700 262,000
Shell Canada Mine 26,800 169,000
In Situ Projects 21,300 134,000
Total 120,800 760,000


As of 2006, output of oil sands production had increased to 1.126 Moilbbl/d. Oil sands were the source of 62% of Alberta's total oil production and 47% of all oil produced in Canada. The Alberta government believes this level of production could reach 3 Moilbbl/d by 2020 and possibly 5 Moilbbl/d by 2030.

Transportation


Canada is the largest source of oil imported to the United States, supplying nearly a million barrels a day from oil sand sources. Keystone XL
Keystone Pipeline
The Keystone Pipeline System is a pipeline system to transport synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen from the Athabasca Oil Sands in northeastern Alberta, Canada to multiple destinations in the United States, which include refineries in Illinois, Cushing oil distribution hub in Oklahoma, and...

, a pipeline from Alberta to Gulf coast refineries, is under consideration, as is the North Gateway project to Kitimat, B.C. which would be built by Enbridge
Enbridge
Enbridge Inc. is a Calgary, Alberta based company focused on three core businesses: crude oil and liquids pipelines, natural gas transportation and distribution, and green energy. The company has approximately 6,000 employees, mostly in Canada and the United States...

, operator of the Enbridge Pipeline System which also serves the area. Industry observers believe there may be excess pipeline capacity.

Future production


As of December 2008, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers is the voice of the upstream Canadian oil and natural gas industry. The members of CAPP produce 90% of the petroleum production in Canada.-Background:...

 revised its 2008-2020 crude oil forecasts to account for project cancellations and cutbacks as a result of the price declines in the second half of 2008. The revised forecast predicted that Canadian oil sands production would continue to grow, but at a slower rate than previously predicted. There would be minimal changes to 2008-2012 production, but by 2020 production could be 300000 oilbbl/d less than its prior predictions. This would mean that Canadian oil sands production would grow from 1.2 Moilbbl/d in 2008 to 3.3 Moilbbl/d in 2020, and that total Canadian oil production would grow from 2.7 Moilbbl/d in 2020. Even accounting for project cancellations, this would place Canada among the four or five largest oil-producing countries in the world by 2020.

In early December 2007, London based BP
BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

 and Calgary based Husky Energy
Husky Energy
Husky Energy Inc. is a large integrated Canadian energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. Husky's foundation is in Western Canada, where it has extensive conventional oil and natural gas assets, significant heavy oil production and a range of midstream and downstream operations, including...

 announced a 50/50 joint venture
Joint venture
A joint venture is a business agreement in which parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets...

 to produce and refine bitumen from the Athabasca oil sands. BP would contribute its Toledo, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

 refinery to the joint venture, while Husky would contribute its Sunrise oil sands project. Sunrise was planned to start producing 60000 oilbbl/d of bitumen in 2012 and may reach 200000 oilbbl/d by 2015-2020. BP would modify its Toledo refinery to process 170000 oilbbl/d of bitumen directly to refined products. The joint venture would solve problems for both companies, since Husky was short of refining capacity, and BP had no presence in the oil sands. It was a change of strategy for BP, since the company historically has downplayed the importance of oil sands.

In mid December 2007, ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips Company is an American multinational energy corporation with its headquarters located in the Energy Corridor district of Houston, Texas in the United States...

 announced its intention to increase its oil sands production from 60000 oilbbl/d to 1 Moilbbl/d over the next 20 years, which would make it the largest private sector oil sands producer in the world. ConocoPhillips currently holds the largest position in the Canadian oil sands with over 1 million acres (4,046.9 km²) under lease. Other major oil sands producers planning to increase their production include Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

 (to 770000 oilbbl/d; Syncrude Canada
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

 (to 550000 oilbbl/d; Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

 (to 500000 oilbbl/d and Canadian Natural Resources (to 500000 oilbbl/d. If all these plans come to fruition, these five companies will be producing over 3.3 Moilbbl/d of oil from oil sands by 2028.
Major Athabasca Oil Sands Projects (as of December 2007)
Project Name Type Major Partners National
Affiliation
2007 Production
(barrels/day)
Planned Production
(barrels/day)
Suncor Primarily Mining Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

Canada 239,100 500,000
Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

Mining Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

Canada (some China, USA) 307,000 550,000
Albian Sands
Albian Sands
Albian Sands Energy Inc. is the operator of the Muskeg River Mine, an oil sands mining project located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. It is a joint venture between Shell Canada , Marathon Oil Canada and Chevron Canada . The company's legal headquarters are located in the Shell Tower in...

Mining Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

(60%), Chevron
Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...

(20%), Marathon
Marathon Oil
Marathon Oil Corporation is a United States-based oil and natural gas exploration and production company. Principal exploration activities are in the United States, Norway, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Canada. Principal development activities are in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway,...

(20%)
UK/Netherlands, USA 136,000 770,000
MacKay River SAGD
Steam assisted gravity drainage
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage is an enhanced oil recovery technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen. It is an advanced form of steam stimulation in which a pair of horizontal wells are drilled into the oil reservoir, one a few metres above the other...

Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

Canada   30,000 190,000
Fort Hills Mining Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

(60%), UTS Energy(20%), Teck
Teck Cominco
Teck Resources Limited known as Teck Cominco until late 2008, is a Canadian mining company. It was formed from the amalgamation of Teck and Cominco in 2001.-History:...

(20%)
Canada   — 140,000
Foster Creek, Christina Lake SAGD Cenovus Energy
Cenovus Energy
Cenovus Energy is an integrated oil company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.Cenovus was formed on December 1, 2009 when Encana Corporation split into two distinct companies: one an integrated oil company , the other a pure play natural gas company . The split left Cenovus with the assets formerly...

Formerly Encana Corporation(50%), ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips Company is an American multinational energy corporation with its headquarters located in the Energy Corridor district of Houston, Texas in the United States...

(50%)
Canada, USA     6,000 400,000
Surmont SAGD Total S.A.
Total S.A.
Total S.A. is a French multinational oil company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world.Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and...

(50%), ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips
ConocoPhillips Company is an American multinational energy corporation with its headquarters located in the Energy Corridor district of Houston, Texas in the United States...

(50%)
France, USA 193,000
Hangingstone SAGD Japan Canada Oil Sands (JACOS
JACOS
Japan Canada Oil Sands Limited is an oil sands extraction company. It is the operator of the Hangingstone oil sands project. JACOS is a subsidiary of JAPEX , which owns 86% share in the company...

)
Japan     8,000   30,000
Long Lake
Long Lake (oil sands)
The Long Lake oil sands project is an in situ oil extraction project southeast of Fort McMurray in the Athabasca oil sands region of Alberta. The project is a joint venture between Nexen, with a 65% interest, and OPTI Canada, with the remaining 35%...

SAGD Nexen
Nexen
Nexen Inc. is an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.-History:Nexen started in 1969 under the name "Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd.", aka CanOxy, and was 80% owned by Occidental Petroleum, a Los Angeles-based oil company...

(65%), OPTI Canada
OPTI Canada
OPTI Canada is a Calgary, Alberta based oil sands development company. Established in 1999, its sole project is the Long Lake oil sands project, of which it owns 35%. The remaining 65% is owned by project operator Nexen Inc.-History:...

(35%)
Canada 240,000
Horizon Mining and in situ Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Canadian Natural Resources Limited is an oil and natural gas exploration, development and production company centered in Calgary, Alberta. Operations are focused in western Canada, the North Sea and offshore West Africa. It ranks number 251 on the Forbes Global 2000 list for...

Canada 500,000
Jackfish I and II SAGD Devon Energy
Devon Energy
Devon Energy Corporation , is among the largest U.S.-based independent natural gas and oil producers. Based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the company's operations are focused on North American onshore exploration and production...

USA ??   70,000
Northern Lights Mining Total S.A.
Total S.A.
Total S.A. is a French multinational oil company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world.Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and...

(60%), Sinopec
Sinopec
China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation Limited , or Sinopec Limited , is a majority owned subsidiary of state owned company Sinopec Group. Sinopec Limited is listed in Hong Kong and also trades in Shanghai and New York ....

(40%)
France, China 100,000
Kearl
Kearl Oil Sands Project
The Kearl Oil Sands Project is a proposed oil sands mine in the Athabasca Oil Sands region at the Kearl Lake area, about north of Fort McMurray. It is developed in three phases and expected to begin production in late 2012.-Project description:...

Mining Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil Limited is Canada's largest petroleum company. The company is engaged in the exploration, production and sale of crude oil and natural gas. It is controlled by US based ExxonMobil, which owns 69.6% of its stock...

, ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil
Exxon Mobil Corporation or ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation. It is a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil company, and was formed on November 30, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Its headquarters are in Irving, Texas...

USA 300,000
Sunrise SAGD Husky Energy
Husky Energy
Husky Energy Inc. is a large integrated Canadian energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. Husky's foundation is in Western Canada, where it has extensive conventional oil and natural gas assets, significant heavy oil production and a range of midstream and downstream operations, including...

(50%), BP
BP
BP p.l.c. is a global oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the third-largest energy company and fourth-largest company in the world measured by revenues and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors"...

(50%)
Canada, UK 200,000
Tucker SAGD Husky Energy
Husky Energy
Husky Energy Inc. is a large integrated Canadian energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. Husky's foundation is in Western Canada, where it has extensive conventional oil and natural gas assets, significant heavy oil production and a range of midstream and downstream operations, including...

Canada ?? 30,000
Oil Sands Project Mining and SAGD Total S.A.
Total S.A.
Total S.A. is a French multinational oil company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world.Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and...

 (76%), Oxy
Occidental Petroleum
Occidental Petroleum Corporation is a California-based oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, the Middle East, North Africa, and South America...

 (15%), Inpex
Inpex
is a Japanese oil company established in 1966 as North Sumatra Offshore Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd.In 2006, INPEX acquired Japanese oil company Teikoku Oil.- Projects :...

 (10%)
France, USA, Japan 225,000
Ells River SAGD Chevron
Chevron Corporation
Chevron Corporation is an American multinational energy corporation headquartered in San Ramon, California, United States and active in more than 180 countries. It is engaged in every aspect of the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries, including exploration and production; refining,...

(60%), Marathon
Marathon Oil
Marathon Oil Corporation is a United States-based oil and natural gas exploration and production company. Principal exploration activities are in the United States, Norway, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Canada. Principal development activities are in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway,...

(20%), Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...

(20%)
USA, UK/Netherlands 100,000
Terre de Grace SAGD Value Creation Inc Canada 300,000
Kai Kos Dehseh SAGD Statoil
Statoil
Statoil ASA is a Norwegian petroleum company established in 1972. It merged with Norsk Hydro in 2007 and was known as StatoilHydro until 2009, when the name was changed back to Statoil ASA. The brand Statoil was retained as a chain of fuel stations owned by StatoilHydro...

Norway 200,000
Saleski SAGD Laricina Energy
Laricina Energy
Laricina Energy Ltd. is a private Canadian oil producing company engaged in exploration in North-Eastern Alberta. The company targets oil sands opportunities outside of the Athabasca mining area and is focusing on in situ plays in the Grosmont and Grand Rapids formations. Its headquarters are...

(60%), OSUM(40%)
Canada 270,000
Black Gold Mine Mining? Korea National Oil Corporation
Korea National Oil Corporation
Korea National Oil Corporation is the national oil and gas company of South Korea and one of the most important industrial companies in the country...

Korea   30,000
Total 726,100 5,068,000   

Governance


The governance of the Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

 oil sands is focused on economic development, and has historically been dominated by the interests of two primary actors; government (federal and provincial) and industry. Canadian federalism
Canadian federalism
Canada is a federation with two distinct jurisdictions of political authority: the country-wide federal government and the ten regionally-based provincial governments. It also has three territorial governments in the far north, though these are subject to the federal government...

 forms the functions and roles of each level of government, in that constitutional power is split so that neither is superior to the other. The Constitution Act, 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 , is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system...

, Section 109 ensures the province full ownership of the lands and resources within its borders. The province acts as the landowner and the federal government oversees jurisdiction over trade, commerce and taxation. There is clear overlap, as resource management influences trade, and trade management influences resources. As of the 1990s, both the federal and provincial government have been aligned, focusing on regulation, technology and the development of new export markets. The majority of “ground-level” governance is carried out by a number of provincial institutions.

Ottawa has avoided direct investment, preferring to improve the investment climate. A prime example of this occurred in 1994, when the federal government rolled out tax breaks allowing 100% of oil sands capital investments to be written off as accelerated capital cost allowances. The provincial government had a much more direct role in development; investing directly in numerous pilot projects, undertaking joint ventures with the industry and consistently making massive investments in research and development. Alberta features one of the lowest royalty rates in the world. This industry-centric royalty system is criticised for “promoting a runaway pace of development”.

Industry is the core force of oil sands development. The first major players, Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

 and Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

, dominated the market until the 1990s. Currently there are 64 companies operating several hundred projects. The majority of production now comes from foreign-owned corporations, and the necessity of maintaining a favourable climate for these corporations grants them strong influence; much stronger than that of non-productive stakeholders, such as citizens and environmental groups.

Governance (policy, administration, regulation) over the oil sands is held almost entirely by the Ministry of Energy (Alberta)
Ministry of Energy (Alberta)
The Ministry of Energy is a Cabinet-level agency of the government of the Canadian province of Alberta responsible for coordinating policy relating to the development of mineral and energy resources. It is also responsible for assessing and collecting non-renewable resource royalties, freehold...

 and its various departments. Critics noted a clear and systemic lack of public involvement at all key stages of the governance process. In answer to this, the province initiated the Oil Sands Consultations Multistakeholder Committee (MSC) in 2006. The MSC represents four organisations: the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA), the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA), the Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development (CONRAD) and the Athabasca Regional Issues Working Group (RIWG). The role of the MSC is to consult and make recommendations on management principles. The recommendations contained in the MSC’s first 2007 Final Report were lauded by several ministers and government representatives, but as of yet, none have been effectively passed into law.

Development


The key characteristic of the Athabasca deposit is that it is the only one shallow enough to be suitable for surface mining
Surface mining
Surface mining , is a type of mining in which soil and rock overlying the mineral deposit are removed...

. About 10% of the Athabasca oil sands are covered by less than 75 metres (246 ft) of overburden
Overburden
Overburden is the material that lies above an area of economic or scientific interest in mining and archaeology; most commonly the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body. It is also known as 'waste' or 'spoil'...

. Until 2009, the surface mineable area (SMA) was defined by the ERCB, an agency of the Alberta government, to cover 37 contiguous townships (about 3400 km² (1,312.7 sq mi)) north of the city of Fort McMurray
Fort McMurray, Alberta
Fort McMurray is an urban service area in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta, Canada. It was previously incorporated as a city on September 1, 1980. It became an urban service area when it amalgamated with Improvement District No. 143 on April 1, 1995 to create the Municipality...

. In June 2009, the SMA was expanded to 51.5 townships, or about 4700 km² (1,814.7 sq mi). This expansion pushes the northern limit of the SMA to within 12 miles (19.3 km) of Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, is the largest national park in Canada at . The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000...

, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The overburden consists of 1 to 3 metres of water-logged muskeg
Muskeg
Muskeg is an acidic soil type common in Arctic and boreal areas, although it is found in other northern climates as well. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland but muskeg is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while 'bog' is common elsewhere. The term is of Cree origin, maskek...

 on top of 0 to 75 metres of clay and barren sand, while the underlying oil sands are typically 40 to 60 metres thick and sit on top of relatively flat limestone rock. As a result of the easy accessibility, the world's first oil sands mine was started by Great Canadian Oil Sands Limited (a predecessor company of Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

) in 1967. The Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

 mine followed in 1978 and is now the largest mine (by area) in the world at 191 km2.

The Albian Sands mine (operated by Shell Canada
Shell Canada
Shell Canada Limited is the subsidiary of Dutch-based Royal Dutch Shell and one of Canada's largest integrated oil companies. Exploration and production of oil, natural gas and sulphur is a major part of its business, as well as the marketing of gasoline and related products through the company's...

) opened in 2003. All three of these mines are associated with bitumen upgrader
Upgrader
An upgrader is a facility that upgrades bitumen into synthetic crude oil. Upgrader plants are typically located close to oil sands production, for example, the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada or the Orinoco tar sands in Venezuela....

s that convert the unusable bitumen into synthetic crude
Synthetic crude
Synthetic crude is the output from a bitumen/extra heavy oil upgrader facility used in connection with oil sand production. It may also refer to shale oil, an output from an oil shale pyrolysis. The properties of the synthetic crude depend on the processes used in the upgrading. Typically, it is...

 oil for shipment to refineries in Canada and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. For Albian, the upgrader is located at Scotford, 439 km south. The bitumen, diluted with a solvent is transferred there in a 610 millimetres (24 in) corridor pipeline.

Bitumen extraction


The original process for extraction of bitumen from the sands was developed by Dr. Karl Clark
Karl Clark (chemist)
Karl Clark was a chemist and oil sand researcher. He is best known for perfecting a process that uses hot water to separate oil from tar sands....

, working with Alberta Research Council
Alberta Research Council
Alberta Research Council is an Alberta government funded applied research and development corporation. In January 2010, the name was changed to Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures -History:...

 in the 1920s. Today, all of the producers doing surface mining, such as Syncrude Canada, Suncor Energy and Albian Sands Energy etc., use a variation of the Clark Hot Water Extraction (CHWE) process. In this process, the ores are mined using open-pit mining technology. The mined ore is then crushed for size reduction. Hot water at 50 — 80 °C is added to the ore and the formed slurry is transported using hydrotransport line to a primary separation vessel (PSV) where bitumen is recovered by flotation as bitumen froth. The recovered bitumen froth consists of 60% bitumen, 30% water and 10% solids by weight.

The recovered bitumen froth needs to be cleaned to reject the contained solids and water to meet the requirement of downstream upgrading processes. Depending on the bitumen content in the ore, between 90 and 100% of the bitumen can be recovered using modern hot water extraction techniques. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed.

More recently, in situ methods like steam-assisted gravity-drainage
Steam assisted gravity drainage
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage is an enhanced oil recovery technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen. It is an advanced form of steam stimulation in which a pair of horizontal wells are drilled into the oil reservoir, one a few metres above the other...

 (SAGD) and cyclic steam stimulation
Steam injection (oil industry)
Steam injection is an increasingly common method of extracting heavy oil. It is considered an enhanced oil recovery method and is the main type of thermal stimulation of oil reservoirs. There are several different forms of the technology, with the two main ones being Cyclic Steam Stimulation and...

 (CSS) have been developed to extract bitumen from deep deposits by injecting steam to heat the sands and reduce the bitumen viscosity so that it can be pumped out like conventional crude oil.

The standard extraction process requires huge amounts of natural gas. Currently, the oil sands industry uses about 4% of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin natural gas production. By 2015, this may increase 2.5 fold.

According to the National Energy Board
National Energy Board
The National Energy Board is an independent economic regulatory agency created in 1959 by the Government of Canada to oversee "international and inter-provincial aspects of the oil, gas and electric utility industries"...

, it requires about 1200 cubic feet (34 m³) of natural gas to produce one barrel of bitumen from in situ projects and about 700 cubic feet (19.8 m³) for integrated projects. Since a barrel of oil equivalent
Barrel of oil equivalent
The barrel of oil equivalent is a unit of energy based on the approximate energy released by burning one barrel of crude oil. The US Internal Revenue Service defines it as equal to 5.8 × 106 BTU...

 is about 6000 cubic feet (169.9 m³) of gas, this represents a large gain in energy. That being the case, it is likely that Alberta regulators will reduce exports of natural gas to the United States in order to provide fuel to the oil sands plants. As gas reserves are exhausted, however, oil upgraders will probably turn to bitumen gasification
Gasification
Gasification is a process that converts organic or fossil based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures , without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam...

 to generate their own fuel. In much the same way the bitumen can be converted into synthetic crude oil, it can also be converted into synthetic natural gas.

In-situ extraction on a commercial scale is just beginning. A project nearing completion, the Long Lake Project, is designed to provide its own fuel, by on-site hydrocracking of the bitumen extracted. Long Lake Phase 1 is extracting 13000 oilbbl/d of bitumen as of July 2008, ramping towards a target of 72,000 in late 2009 and "upgrading" of bitumen to liquid oil in 2007, producing 60000 oilbbl/d of usable oil. The hydrocracker is scheduled to complete commissioning by September 2008.

Environmental impacts


Critics contend that government and industry measures taken to minimize environmental and health risks posed by large-scale mining operations are inadequate, causing damage to the natural environment.
Objective discussion of the environmental impacts has often been clouded by polarized arguments from industry and from advocacy groups.

Land


Approximately 20% of Alberta's oil sands are recoverable through open-pit mining, while 80% require in situ extraction technologies (largely because of their depth). Open pit mining destroys the boreal forest
Boreal forest of Canada
Canada's boreal forest comprises about one third of the circumpolar boreal forest that rings the northern hemisphere, mostly north of the 50th parallel. Other countries with boreal forest include Russia, which contains the majority, and the Scandinavian and Nordic countries . The boreal region in...

 and muskeg
Muskeg
Muskeg is an acidic soil type common in Arctic and boreal areas, although it is found in other northern climates as well. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland but muskeg is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while 'bog' is common elsewhere. The term is of Cree origin, maskek...

. The Alberta government requires companies to restore the land to "equivalent land capability". This means that the ability of the land to support various land uses after reclamation is similar to what existed, but that the individual land uses may not necessarily be identical.

In some particular circumstances the government considers agricultural land to be equivalent to forest land. Oil sands companies have reclaimed mined land to use as pasture for wood bison
Wood Bison
The Wood Bison, Bison bison athabascae, also called Mountain Bison, Wood Buffalo or Mountain Buffalo, is a distinct northern subspecies or ecotype of the American Bison...

 instead of restoring it to the original boreal forest and muskeg. Syncrude asserts they have reclaimed 22% of their disturbed land, a figure disputed by other sources, who assess Syncrude more accurately reclaimed only 0.2% of its disturbed land.

Water


A Pembina Institute
Pembina Institute
The Pembina Institute is a Canadian not-for-profit think tank focused on developing innovative sustainable energy solutions. Founded in 1985, the Institute has offices in Calgary, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Yellowknife....

 report stated "To produce one cubic metre (m3) of synthetic crude oil (SCO) (upgraded bitumen) in a mining operation requires about 2–4.5 m3 of water (net figures). Approved oil sands mining operations are currently licensed to divert 359 million m3 from the Athabasca River, or more than twice the volume of water required to meet the annual municipal needs of the City of Calgary." and went on to say "...the net water requirement to produce a cubic metre of oil with in situ production may be as little as 0.2 m3, depending on how much is recycled". Jeffrey Simpson
Jeffrey Simpson
Jeffrey Carl Simpson, OC , is a Canadian journalist. He has been The Globe and Mails national affairs columnist for almost three decades...

 of the Globe and Mail paraphrased this report, saying: "A cubic metre of oil, mined from the tar sands, needs two to 4.5 cubic metres of water." Though actual water withdrawals for conventional production run at even less than the 0.2 m3 needed for in situ production.

The Athabasca River runs 1,231 kilometres from the Athabasca Glacier in west-central Alberta to Lake Athabasca in northeastern Alberta. The average annual flow just downstream of Fort McMurray is 633 cubic metres per second with its highest daily average measuring 1,200 cubic metres per second.

Water licence allocations total about 1% of the Athabasca River average annual flow, though actual withdrawals for all uses, in 2006, amount to about 0.4%. In addition, the Alberta government sets strict limits on how much water oil sands companies can remove from the Athabasca River. According to the Water Management Framework for the Lower Athabasca River, during periods of low river flow water consumption from the Athabasca River is limited to 1.3% of annual average flow. The province of Alberta is also looking into cooperative withdrawal agreements between oil sands operators.

Natural gas use and greenhouse gases


The processing of bitumen into synthetic crude requires energy, which is currently being generated by burning natural gas. In 2007, the oil sands used around 1 billion cufts (28,316,847 m³) of natural gas per day, around 40% of Alberta's total usage. Based on gas purchases, natural gas requirements are given by the Canadian Energy Resource Institute as 2.14 GJ (2.04 thousand cu ft) per barrel for cyclic steam stimulation
Steam injection (oil industry)
Steam injection is an increasingly common method of extracting heavy oil. It is considered an enhanced oil recovery method and is the main type of thermal stimulation of oil reservoirs. There are several different forms of the technology, with the two main ones being Cyclic Steam Stimulation and...

 projects, 1.08 GJ (1.03 thousand cu ft) per barrel for SAGD projects, 0.55 GJ (0.52 thousand cu ft) per barrel for bitumen extraction in mining operations not including upgrading or 1.54 GJ (1.47 thousand cu ft) per barrel for extraction and upgrading in mining operations.

A 2009 study by CERA estimated that production from Canada's oil sands
emits "about 5 percent to 15 percent more carbon dioxide, over the
"well-to-wheels" lifetime analysis of the fuel, than average crude
oil." Author and investigative journalist David Strahan that same year stated that IEA figures show that carbon dioxide emissions from the tar sands are 20% higher than average emissions from oil, explaining the discrepancy as the difference between upstream emissions and life cycle emissions. He goes on to say that a US government report in 2005 suggested with current technology conventional oil releases 40kg of carbon dioxide per barrel while non-conventional oil releases 80-115kg of carbon dioxide. Alberta energy suggests lower releases of carbon with improving technology, giving a value of 39% drop in emissions per barrel between 1990 and 2008, however only a 29% reduction between 1990 and 2009.

The forecast growth in synthetic oil production in Alberta also threatens Canada's international commitments. In ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

, Canada agreed to reduce, by 2012, its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% with respect to 1990. In 2002, Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 24% since 1990. Oil Sands production contributed 3.4% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in 2003.

Ranked as the world's eighth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Canada is a relatively large emitter given its population and is missing its Kyoto targets. A major Canadian initiative called the Integrated CO2 Network (ICO2N) promotes the development of large scale capture, transport and storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a means of helping Canada to help meet climate change objectives while supporting economic growth. ICO2N members represent a group of industry participants, many oil sands producers, providing a framework for carbon capture and storage development in Canada. Nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 has also been proposed
Energy Alberta Corporation
Energy Alberta Corporation was created in 2005 to provide nuclear power to the energy-intensive development of the oil sands resources in northern Alberta. The company was founded by Hank Swartout, CEO of Precision Drilling Corporation, and Wayne Henuset, co-owner of Willow Park Wines and Spirits...

 as a means of generating the required energy without releasing green house gases.

Population


The Athabasca oil sands are located in the northeastern portion of the Canadian province of Alberta, near the city of Fort McMurray. The area is only sparsely populated, and in the late 1950s, it was primarily a wilderness outpost of a few hundred people whose main economic activities included fur trapping and salt mining. From a population of 37,222 in 1996, the boomtown
Boomtown
A boomtown is a community that experiences sudden and rapid population and economic growth. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil, although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons,...

 of Fort McMurray and the surrounding region (known as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Wood Buffalo, Alberta
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is a specialized municipality located in northeastern Alberta. Formed as a result of the amalgamation of the City of Fort McMurray and Improvement District No. 143 on April 1, 1995, it is the second largest municipality in Alberta by area...

) grew to 79,810 people as of 2006, including a "shadow population" of 10,442 living in work camps, leaving the community struggling to provide services and housing for migrant workers, many of them from Eastern Canada, especially Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

. Fort McMurray ceased to be an incorporated city
Municipal corporation
A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which...

 in 1995 and is now an urban service area within Wood Buffalo.

Estimated oil reserves


The Alberta government's Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) estimated in 2007 that about 173 Goilbbl of crude bitumen are economically recoverable from the three Alberta oil sands areas based on benchmark WTI market prices of $62 per barrel in 2006, rising to a projected $69 per barrel in 2016 using current technology. This was equivalent to about 10% of the estimated 1700 Goilbbl of bitumen-in-place. In fact WTI and Brent prices topped $147 in July 2008, which were the highest prices ever recorded for these oil grades. Alberta estimated that the Athabasca deposits alone contain 35 Goilbbl of surface mineable bitumen and 98 Goilbbl of bitumen recoverable by in-situ methods. These estimates of Canada's reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 were doubted when they were first published but are now largely accepted by the international oil industry. This volume placed Canadian proven reserves second in the world behind those of Saudi Arabia.


The method of calculating economically recoverable reserves that produced these estimates was adopted because conventional methods of accounting for reserves gave increasingly meaningless numbers. They made it appear that Alberta was running out of oil at a time when rapid increases in oil sands production were more than offsetting declines in conventional oil, and in fact most of Alberta's oil production is now unconventional oil. Conventional estimates of oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 are really calculations of the geological risk of drilling for oil, but in the oil sands there is very little geological risk because they outcrop on the surface and are easy to locate. With the oil price increases since 2003, the economic risk of low oil prices was reduced.

The Alberta estimates only assume a recovery rate of around 20% of bitumen-in-place, whereas oil companies using the steam assisted gravity drainage
Steam assisted gravity drainage
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage is an enhanced oil recovery technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen. It is an advanced form of steam stimulation in which a pair of horizontal wells are drilled into the oil reservoir, one a few metres above the other...

 (SAGD) method of extracting bitumen report that they can recover over 60% with little effort.

Only 3% of the initial established crude bitumen reserves have been produced since commercial production started in 1967. At rate of production projected for 2015, about 3 Moilbbl/d, the Athabasca oil sands reserves would last over 170 years. However those production levels require an influx of workers into an area that until recently was largely uninhabited. By 2007 this need in northern Alberta drove unemployment rates in Alberta and adjacent British Columbia to the lowest levels in history. As far away as the Atlantic Provinces, where workers were leaving to work in Alberta, unemployment rates fell to levels not seen for over one hundred years.

The Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

n Orinoco Oil Sands site may contain more oil sands than Athabasca. However, while the Orinoco deposits are less viscous and more easily produced using conventional techniques (the Venezuelan government prefers to call them "extra-heavy oil"), they are too deep to access by surface mining.

Economics


Despite the large reserves, the cost of extracting the oil from bituminous sands has historically made production of the oil sands unprofitable—the cost of selling the extracted crude would not cover the direct costs of recovery; labour to mine the sands and fuel to extract the crude.
In mid-2006, the National Energy Board of Canada estimated the operating cost of a new mining operation in the Athabasca oil sands to be C$9 to C$12 per barrel, while the cost of an in-situ SAGD operation (using dual horizontal wells) would be C$10 to C$14 per barrel. This compares to operating costs for conventional oil wells which can range from less than one dollar per barrel in Iraq and Saudi Arabia to over six in the United States and Canada's conventional oil reserves.

The capital cost of the equipment required to mine the sands and haul it to processing is a major consideration in starting production. The NEB estimates that capital costs raise the total cost of production to C$18 to C$20 per barrel for a new mining operation and C$18 to C$22 per barrel for a SAGD operation. This does not include the cost of upgrading the crude bitumen to synthetic crude oil, which makes the final costs C$36 to C$40 per barrel for a new mining operation.

Therefore, although high crude prices make the cost of production very attractive, sudden drops in price leaves producers unable to recover their capital costs—although the companies are well financed and can tolerate long periods of low prices since the capital has already been spent and they can typically cover incremental operating costs.

However, the development of commercial production is made easier by the fact that exploration costs are very low. Such costs are a major factor when assessing the economics of drilling in a traditional oil field. The location of the oil deposits in the oil sands are well known, and an estimate of recovery costs can usually be made easily. There is not another region in the world with energy deposits of comparable magnitude where it would be less likely that the installations would be confiscated
Confiscation
Confiscation, from the Latin confiscatio 'joining to the fiscus, i.e. transfer to the treasury' is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority...

 by a hostile national government, or be endangered by a war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 or revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

.

As a result of the oil price increases since 2003, the economics of oil sands have improved dramatically. At a world price of US$50 per barrel, the NEB estimated an integrated mining operation would make a rate return of 16 to 23%, while a SAGD operation would return 16 to 27%. Prices since 2006 have risen, exceeding US$145 in mid 2008. As a result, capital expenditures in the oil sands announced for the period 2006 to 2015 are expected to exceed C$100 billion, which is twice the amount projected as recently as 2004. However, because of an acute labour shortage which has developed in Alberta, it is not likely that all these projects can be completed.

At present the area around Fort McMurray has seen the most effect from the increased activity in the oil sands. Although jobs are plentiful, housing is in short supply and expensive. People seeking work often arrive in the area without arranging accommodation, driving up the price of temporary accommodation. The area is isolated, with only a two-lane road connecting it to the rest of the province, and there is pressure on the government of Alberta to improve road links as well as hospitals and other infrastructure.

Despite the best efforts of companies to move as much of the construction work as possible out of the Fort McMurray area, and even out of Alberta, the shortage of skilled workers is spreading to the rest of the province. Even without the oil sands, the Alberta economy would be very strong, but development of the oil sands has resulted in the strongest period of economic growth ever recorded by a Canadian province.

Geopolitical importance


The Athabasca oil sands are often a topic in international trade talks, with energy rivals China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and the United States negotiating with Canada for a bigger share of the rapidly increasing output. Production is expected to quadruple between 2005 and 2015, reaching 4 Moilbbl a day, with increasing political and economic importance. Currently, most of the oil sands production is exported to the United States.

An agreement has been signed between PetroChina
PetroChina
PetroChina Company Limited is a Chinese oil company and is the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation , headquartered in Dongcheng District, Beijing. It is China's biggest oil producer, and was the world's most valuable company by market value as of September 28th 2010...

 and Enbridge
Enbridge
Enbridge Inc. is a Calgary, Alberta based company focused on three core businesses: crude oil and liquids pipelines, natural gas transportation and distribution, and green energy. The company has approximately 6,000 employees, mostly in Canada and the United States...

 to build a 400000 oilbbl/d pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta, to the west coast port of Kitimat, British Columbia
Kitimat, British Columbia
Kitimat is a coastal city in northwestern British Columbia, in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine. The Kitimat Valley, which includes the adjacent community of Terrace, is the most populous urban district in Northwest British Columbia...

. If it is built, the pipeline will help export synthetic crude oil from the oil sands to China and elsewhere in the Pacific. However, recently First Nations and environmental groups have protested the proposed pipeline, stating that its construction and operation will be destructive to the environment. First Nations groups also claim that the development of the proposed pipeline is in violation of commitments that the Government of Canada has made through various Treaties and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A smaller pipeline will also be built alongside to import condensate to dilute the bitumen. Sinopec
Sinopec
China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation Limited , or Sinopec Limited , is a majority owned subsidiary of state owned company Sinopec Group. Sinopec Limited is listed in Hong Kong and also trades in Shanghai and New York ....

, the largest refining and chemical company in China, and China National Petroleum Corporation
China National Petroleum Corporation
China National Petroleum Corporation is a state-owned fuel-producing corporation and the largest integrated oil and gas company in the People's Republic of China...

 have bought or are planning to buy shares in major oil sands development.

On August 20, 2009, the U.S. State Department issued a presidential permit for an Alberta Clipper Pipeline that will run from Hardisty, Alberta
Hardisty, Alberta
Hardisty, Alberta is a town in Flagstaff County in Alberta, Canada. It is located in east-central Alberta, from the Saskatchewan border, near the crossroads of Highway 13 and Highway 881, in the Battle River Valley.- History :...

 to Superior, Wisconsin
Superior, Wisconsin
Superior is a city in and the county seat of Douglas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 26,960 at the 2010 census. Located at the junction of U.S. Highways 2 and 53, it is north of and adjacent to both the Village of Superior and the Town of Superior.Superior is at the western...

. The pipeline will be capable of carrying up to 450000 barrels (71,544.3 m³) of crude oil a day to refineries in the U.S.

Indigenous peoples of the area


Indigenous peoples of the area include the Fort McKay First Nation. The oil sands themselves are located within the boundaries of Treaty 8
Treaty 8
Treaty 8 was an agreement signed on June 21, 1899, between Queen Victoria and various First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area. The Treaty was signed just south of present-day Grouard, Alberta.-Treaty:...

, signed in 1899, which states:
"It does not appear likely that the conditions of the country on either side of the Athabasca and Slave Rivers or about Athabasca Lake will be so changed as to affect hunting or trapping, and it is safe to say that so long as the fur-bearing animals remain, the great bulk of the Indians will continue to hunt and to trap.”

“We had to solemnly assure them that only such laws as to hunting and fishing as were in the interest of the Indians and were found necessary in order to protect the fish and fur-bearing animals would be made, and that they would be as free to hunt and fish after the treaty as they would be if they never entered into it. (…) It does not appear likely that the conditions of the country on either side of the Athabasca and Slave Rivers or about Athabasca Lake will be so changed as to affect hunting or trapping, and it is safe to say that so long as the fur-bearing animals remain, the great bulk of the Indians will continue to hunt and to trap.”

-The Honourable Clifford Sifton, Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Report of Commissioners for Treaty No. 8, Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 22, 1899

The Fort McKay First Nation has formed several companies to service the oil sands industry and will be developing a mine on their territory.
Opposition remaining within the First Nation focuses on environmental stewardship, land rights, and health issues, like elevated cancer rates in Fort Chipewyan and deformed fish being found by commercial fishermen in Lake Athbasca.

Oil sand companies



There are currently three large oil sands mining operations in the area run by Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

 Canada Limited, Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

 and Albian Sands
Albian Sands
Albian Sands Energy Inc. is the operator of the Muskeg River Mine, an oil sands mining project located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. It is a joint venture between Shell Canada , Marathon Oil Canada and Chevron Canada . The company's legal headquarters are located in the Shell Tower in...

 owned by Shell Canada, Chevron, and Marathon Oil Corp.

Major producing or planned developments in the Athabasca Oil Sands include the following projects:
  • Suncor Energy
    Suncor Energy
    Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...

    's Steepbank and Millennium mines currently produce 263000 oilbbl/d and its Firebag in-situ project produces 35000 oilbbl/d. It intends to spend 3.2 billion to expand its mining operations to 400000 oilbbl/d and its in-situ production to 140000 oilbbl/d by 2008.
  • Syncrude
    Syncrude
    Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...

    's Mildred Lake and Aurora mines currently can produce 360000 oilbbl/d.
  • Shell Canada
    Shell Canada
    Shell Canada Limited is the subsidiary of Dutch-based Royal Dutch Shell and one of Canada's largest integrated oil companies. Exploration and production of oil, natural gas and sulphur is a major part of its business, as well as the marketing of gasoline and related products through the company's...

     currently operates its Muskeg River Mine
    Albian Sands
    Albian Sands Energy Inc. is the operator of the Muskeg River Mine, an oil sands mining project located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. It is a joint venture between Shell Canada , Marathon Oil Canada and Chevron Canada . The company's legal headquarters are located in the Shell Tower in...

     producing 155000 oilbbl/d and the Scotford Upgrader
    Scotford Upgrader
    The Shell Scotford Upgrader is an oilsand upgrader, a facility which processes crude bitumen from oil sands into a wide range of synthetic crude oils. The upgrader is owned by Athabasca Oil Sands Project , a joint venture of Shell Canada Energy , Marathon Oil Sands L.P. and Chevron Canada Limited...

     at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
    Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
    Fort Saskatchewan is a city in Alberta, Canada, located northeast of downtown Edmonton, Alberta's capital city, along the North Saskatchewan River. Fort Saskatchewan is part of the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area and is one of 24 municipalities on the Capital Region Board...

    . Shell intends to open its new Jackpine mine and expand total production to 500000 oilbbl/d over the next few years.
  • Nexen
    Nexen
    Nexen Inc. is an energy company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.-History:Nexen started in 1969 under the name "Canadian Occidental Petroleum Ltd.", aka CanOxy, and was 80% owned by Occidental Petroleum, a Los Angeles-based oil company...

    's in-situ Long Lake SAGD project is now producing 70000 oilbbl/d. Plans to expand it to 240000 oilbbl/d have been made. Expansion plans were delayed in early 2009.
  • CNRL's $8 billion Horizon mine is planned to produce 110000 oilbbl/d on startup in mid 2009 and grow to 300000 oilbbl/d by 2010.
  • Total S.A.
    Total S.A.
    Total S.A. is a French multinational oil company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world.Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and...

    's subsidiary Deer Creek Energy is operating a SAGD project on its Joslyn lease, producing 10000 oilbbl/d. It intends on constructing its mine by 2010 to expand its production by 100000 oilbbl/d.
  • Imperial Oil
    Imperial Oil
    Imperial Oil Limited is Canada's largest petroleum company. The company is engaged in the exploration, production and sale of crude oil and natural gas. It is controlled by US based ExxonMobil, which owns 69.6% of its stock...

    's 5 to 8 billion Kearl Oil Sands Project
    Kearl Oil Sands Project
    The Kearl Oil Sands Project is a proposed oil sands mine in the Athabasca Oil Sands region at the Kearl Lake area, about north of Fort McMurray. It is developed in three phases and expected to begin production in late 2012.-Project description:...

     is projected to start construction in 2008 and produce 100000 oilbbl/d by 2010. Imperial also operates a 160000 oilbbl/d in-situ operation in the Cold Lake
    Cold Lake (Alberta)
    Cold Lake is a large lake in Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. The lake straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, and has a water area of . It is also one of the deepest lakes in Alberta with a maximum depth of . It has around 24 known species of fish in it and is a major ice fishing lake...

     oil sands region.
  • Synenco Energy and SinoCanada Petroleum Corp., a subsidiary of Sinopec
    Sinopec
    China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation Limited , or Sinopec Limited , is a majority owned subsidiary of state owned company Sinopec Group. Sinopec Limited is listed in Hong Kong and also trades in Shanghai and New York ....

    , China's largest oil refiner, had agreed to create the 3.5 billion Northern Lights mine, projected to produce 100000 oilbbl/d by 2009. This project has since been indefinitely deferred (as of 2007).
  • North American Oil Sands Corporation (NAOSC), a subsidiary of Statoil
    Statoil
    Statoil ASA is a Norwegian petroleum company established in 1972. It merged with Norsk Hydro in 2007 and was known as StatoilHydro until 2009, when the name was changed back to Statoil ASA. The brand Statoil was retained as a chain of fuel stations owned by StatoilHydro...

    , is expected to produce in the Kai Kos Dehseh project around 100000 oilbbl/d by 2015. It is expected to ramp up production to around 100000 oilbbl/d by around 2015.

generated with :de:Wikipedia:Helferlein/VBA-Macro for EXCEL tableconversion V1.7<\hiddentext>> |  
| 1B
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2012> |  
| 2
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2014> | Muskeg River
| Existing
| 155000 oilbbl/d
| 2002> |  
| Expansion
| 115000 oilbbl/d
| 2010> | Pierre River
| 1
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2018> |  
| 2
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2021> |  
| 2 and 3
| 135000 oilbbl/d
| 2011> |  
| 4
| 145000 oilbbl/d
| 2015> |  
| 5
| 162000 oilbbl/d
| 2017> |  
| 2
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2012> |  
| 3
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2018> |  
| debottleneck
| 25000 oilbbl/d
| TBD> |  
| debottleneck
| 23000 oilbbl/d
| 2008> | Steepbank
| debottleneck
| 4000 oilbbl/d
| 2007> |  
| extension
|  
| 2010> | Voyageur South
| 1
| 120000 oilbbl/d
| 2012> |  
| 3 Expansion
| 116300 oilbbl/d
| 2006> |  
| 3 Debottleneck
| 46500 oilbbl/d
| 2011> |  
| 4 Expansion
| 139500 oilbbl/d
| 2015> |  
| 2
| 50000 oilbbl/d
| 2016> |  
| 3
| 50000 oilbbl/d
| 2019> |  
| 4
| 50000 oilbbl/d
| 2022> | Frontier
| 1
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2014>
Mining Projects
Operator Project Phase Capacity Start-up Regulatory Status
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell plc , commonly known as Shell, is a global oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the fifth-largest company in the world according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine and one of the six...


| Jackpine
| 1A
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2010
Under construction
Approved
Applied for
Operating
Approved
Applied for
Applied for
Canadian Natural Resources
| Horizon
| 1
| 135000 oilbbl/d
| 2009
Operating
Approved
Announced
Announced
Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil Limited is Canada's largest petroleum company. The company is engaged in the exploration, production and sale of crude oil and natural gas. It is controlled by US based ExxonMobil, which owns 69.6% of its stock...


| Kearl
| 1
| 100000 oilbbl/d
| 2010
Approved
Approved
Approved
Petro Canada
| Fort Hills
| 1
| 165000 oilbbl/d
| 2011
Approved
Approved
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy
Suncor Energy Inc. is a Canadian integrated energy company based in Calgary, Alberta. It specializes in production of synthetic crude from oil sands...


| Millenium
|  
| 294000 oilbbl/d
| 1967
Operating
Under construction
Under construction
Approved
Applied for
Syncrude
Syncrude
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is the world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and the largest single source producer in Canada. It is located just outside Fort McMurray in the Athabasca Oil Sands, and has a nameplate capacity of of oil, equivalent to about 13% of Canada's consumption...


| Mildred Lake & Aurora
| 1 and 2
| 290700 oilbbl/d
| 1978
Operating
Operating
Announced
Announced
Synenco Energy
| Northern Lights
| 1
| 57250 oilbbl/d
| 2010
Applied for
Total S.A.
Total S.A.
Total S.A. is a French multinational oil company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world.Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and...


| Joslyn
| 1
| 50000 oilbbl/d
| 2013
Applied for
Applied for
Announced
Announced
UTS/Teck Cominco
Teck Cominco
Teck Resources Limited known as Teck Cominco until late 2008, is a Canadian mining company. It was formed from the amalgamation of Teck and Cominco in 2001.-History:...


| Equinox
| Lease 14
| 50000 oilbbl/d
| 2014
Public disclosure
Public disclosure

Court ordered sanctions


For improper diversion of water in 2008/2009, Statoil
Statoil
Statoil ASA is a Norwegian petroleum company established in 1972. It merged with Norsk Hydro in 2007 and was known as StatoilHydro until 2009, when the name was changed back to Statoil ASA. The brand Statoil was retained as a chain of fuel stations owned by StatoilHydro...

 Canada Ltd. was ordered in 2011 to pay a fine of $5000 and to allocate $185,000 for a training project (The verdict was handed down by the Provincial Court of Alberta
Provincial Court of Alberta
The Provincial Court of Alberta is a Provincial Court for the Canadian province of Alberta. The court oversees matters relating to criminal law, family law, youth law, civil law and traffic laws....

, Criminal Division).

See also

  • Canadian Centre for Energy Information
    Canadian Centre for Energy Information
    The Canadian Centre for Energy Information is a non-profit organization created in 2002 to meet an urgent need for information on all aspects of the Canadian energy system from oil, natural gas, coal, thermal, and hydroelectric power through to nuclear, solar, wind, and other sources of energy...

  • History of the petroleum industry in Canada (oil sands and heavy oil)
    History of the petroleum industry in Canada (oil sands and heavy oil)
    Canada's oil sands and heavy oil resources are among the world's great petroleum deposits. They include the vast oil sands of northern Alberta, and the heavy oil reservoirs that surround the small city of Lloydminster, which sits on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan...

  • Mackenzie Valley Pipeline
    Mackenzie Valley Pipeline
    The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline is a proposed project to transport natural gas from the Beaufort Sea through Canada's Northwest Territories to tie into gas pipelines in northern Alberta. The project was first proposed in the early 1970s, but was scrapped following an inquiry conducted by Justice...

  • Utah Oil Sands Joint Venture
  • Melville Island oil sands
    Melville Island oil sands
    The Melville Island oil sands are a large deposit of oil sands on Melville Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.Exploration for petroleum deposits in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago began, on Melville Island, in 1961....


Further reading

  • http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470161388.htmlBlack Bonanza, by Alastair Sweeny
    Alastair Sweeny
    Alastair Sweeny is a Canadian publisher, historian, and author. Born in Toronto, Ontario, he attended St. Andrew's College, received a Bachelors degree from the Trinity College in the University of Toronto, and a Master of Letters and Doctor of Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin.Sweeny has...

     (Wiley Canada 2010)] ISBN 0470161388

Video material

  • Dirty Oil. Documentary by Leslie Iwerks, 2009
  • H2Oil. Documentary by Shannon Walsh
  • Tar Sands - Canada for Sale Documentary by Tom Radford, 2008
  • People & Power - Alberta's Oil Sands. Al Jazeera English, 2008 (online copy)
  • Riz Khan - Canada's dirty oil. Al Jazeera English, 2009 (online copy part 1, part 2)
  • 60 Minutes - The Alberta Oil Sands. CBS
    CBS Corporation
    CBS Corporation is an American media conglomerate focused on commercial broadcasting, publishing, billboards and television production, with most of its operations in the United States. The President and CEO of the company is Leslie Moonves. Sumner Redstone, owner of National Amusements, is CBS's...

    , 22. January 2006
  • To the Last Drop (part 1, part 2). Documentary by Tom Radford about the impact on local communities, broadcasted on Al Jazeera English's program Witness, 2011

External links