Tar sands in alberta

History of the petroleum industry in Canada oil sands and heavy oil The exploitation of bituminous deposits and seeps dates back to Paleolithic times. Bitumen has been found adhering to stone tools used by Neanderthals at sites in Syria. After the arrival of Homo sapienshumans used bitumen for construction of buildings and waterproofing of reed boatsamong other uses.

Tar sands in alberta

What matters is not the number of people who reside here, but the number of massive oil tanks that do. There are about seventy-five now, and more on the way, plus four underground salt caverns converted to oil storage.

The rows of gleaming tanks, some topped with geodesic domes, seemed like a constellation of religious temples.

As I crested a small rise, the Hardisty Terminal appeared on the horizon. A inch diameter pipeline conveys a black torrent of the stuff: It fills tanks that are as large as feet across and three stories tall, operated by a host of petroleum collection, processing, and transport companies, including Gibson Energy, Enbridge, and TransCanada.

Most oil and natural gas pipelines are buried, and few people give much thought to the hidden cargo of freight trains. But lately, spills, derailments, and spiraling alarm over climate change have dramatically heightened the profile of energy infrastructure.

The Keystone XL pipeline, proposed in the waning days of the Bush administration, is now a household name in the United States, thanks to environmental activists who made it a political symbol. The same is true of the Athabasca tar sands in Canadian households.

Not only are the tar Tar sands in alberta central to North American energy policy, they are potentially the largest source of new carbon emissions in the world.

So the construction of new infrastructures is no longer a local or regional concern, but a global battleground — real and symbolic — for a coalition of native peoples, environmentalists, landowners, and concerned citizens.

Whether Canada is a petrostate — whether its governments are dominated by energy companies — is an open question, but the oil economy is a dominant political issue. No one knows where the bottom is. Open-pit tar sands mine near Fort McMurray.

Oil sands - Wikipedia

About a tenth of that, buried beneath 57, square miles of boreal forest — roughly the size of Florida — is recoverable, though costly to exploit. It takes two tons of tar sands to produce a barrel of crude oil. Two tons, in other words, for me to drive from Montana to Hardisty.

It would be hard to place such riches further away from major markets. Because of the remote location and unconventional nature of its crude, Canada must build an energy infrastructure unlike any other in the world.

The tar sands produce extremely heavy oil, a solid substance with a natural consistency like toffee. It comes in granules, each smaller than a grain of rice, mixed with sand, clay, and water, which must be mined and separated.

Most of the sands are found deeper than feet below the surface, and so a layer of overburden, the boreal forest, must be stripped off. While there are similar heavy crude deposits elsewhere, notably the Faja Petrolifera del Orinoco in Venezuela, they have not been extensively tapped because of the capital required.

It takes two tons of Alberta tar sands to produce a barrel of crude oil, and one barrel of oil to make 19 gallons of gas. Two tons of tar sands, in other words, for me to drive from Montana to Hardisty.

The steam liquifies the buried bitumen, which can then be pumped out of the lower well. Alternatively, shallower deposits can be strip-mined, loaded onto ton trucks, and hauled to a nearby processing facility, where the soil, clay, and water, are separated from the tar. Both methods are energy intensive, which accounts for the higher carbon footprint.

The unconventional crude is then ready for its long journey to special refineries on the Gulf Coast. The exact formula is a trade secret. The first leg of its journey brings it to the Hardisty terminal or a smaller tank farm near Edmonton, where it is staged and blended.

Existing pipelines deliver about 1. Railroads can handle additional volume. By the end ofrail is forecast to haulbpd, up fromtwo years ago.Canadian tar sands are different than U.S.

tar sands in that Canadian tar sands are water wetted, while U.S tar sands are hydrocarbon wetted. As a result of this difference, extraction techniques for the tar sands in Utah will be different than for those in Alberta.

Oct 13,  · With oil prices falling precipitously, capital-intensive projects rooted in the heavy crude mined from Alberta’s oil sands are losing money, contributing to the loss of about 35, energy.

Oil sands, also known as tar sands or crude bitumen, or more technically bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. In addition to the three major Canadian oil sands in Alberta, there is a fourth major oil sands deposit in Canada.

Tar sands in alberta

The largest deposits of tar sands are found in Alberta, Canada. While tar sands have been in production since the late s, and currently account for about 5 percent of all U.S. gasoline, production has been scaling up—which could have serious consequences for the air, water, and climate.

The Dilbit Hits the Fan. If the Keystone XL pipeline is dead, what is the future of the Alberta tar sands? A visit to the headwaters of Canadian oil. T. Boone Pickens, a legendary Texas oil tycoon, was working Alberta's traditional oil rigs back in the '60s and remembers how he and his colleagues thought mining for oil sands was a joke.

Tar sands in alberta
Canada's tar sands landscape from the air – in pictures | Environment | The Guardian