About Canada’s Oil Sands

Notes taken from the booklet produced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and current as of June 2011.Image

  1. The world’s 3rd largest oil reserves are found in Canada.
  2. Oil sands constitute 97% of these reserves in Canada.
  3. Oil sands = a natural mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen.
  4. Bitumen is oil that is too heavy or thick to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated.
  5. At 50F, bitumen is as hard as a hockey puck.
  6. Three oil sands deposits are in Athabasca (Alberta/Saskatchewan), Peace River (Alberta) and Cold lake (Alberta). See: http://goo.gl/maps/hU2IM
  7. Two methods to recover the oil are: 80% Drilling (in situ): steam assisted gravity drainage drilling and cyclic steam stimulation drilling. 20% Mining: dig, crush, extract, recycle tailings.
  8. In 1980, Canada production in barrels/day: 0.1M oil sands; 1.5M crude oil including oil sands
  9. In 2010, Canada production in barrels/day: 1.5M oil sands; 2.8M crude oil including oil sands
  10. In 2009, 97% of Canada’s energy exports went to US markets.
  11. Canada produces 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions with a 0.5% of world’s population.
  12. GHG by countries: China (24%), US (18%), OECD EU (17%), Non-OECD Europe & Eurasia (9%), India (5%), Japan (4%)
  13. In 2009, oil sands’ total GHG emission were 45 M tonnes, accounting for 6.5% of Canada’s GHG emission.
  14. Current carbon price in Alberta is $15/tonne. Oil sands producers are required to pay into a technology fund if they do not meet the emission reduction targets.
  15. CCS =carbon capture and storage
  16. The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association monitors the air in oil sands region 24/365.
  17. Alberta government allocates 7% of water allocation to oil sands, and 11% to municipal and 44% to irrigation/agriculture.
  18. Drilling (in situ) requires on average 0.5 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced.
  19. Mining requires 2 to 4 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil produced.
  20. Oil sands producers recycle 80 – 95% of water used.
  21. Tailings = leftover mixture of water, sand, clay and residual oil after oil is separated from sand.
  22. Tailing points are large engineered dam and dyke systems designed to store tailings.
  23. Seepage such as ditches around tailings to pump water back into the tailings ponds.
  24. Fine tailings is the middle layer in the tailing ponds (below water, above coarse sand) and a combination of water and clay. Separation and dry out of fine tailings can take up to 30 years without acceleration technology.
  25. Residual oil can be found floating on the surface of most tailing ponds and poses a threat to birds that land on the ponds.
  26. Active mining footprint = 260 sq miles, about the city area of Austin, Texas.
  27. Alberta law requires all lands disturbed by oil sands operations be reclaimed. All companies are required to develop a reclamation plan that spans the life of the project.
  28. Go to www.oilsandstoday.ca for more information