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Alberta Oil Sands

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Jonah Harris

on 14 May 2014

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Transcript of Alberta Oil Sands

- The lithoshere also is impacted by the oil sands extraction and production.

- Open pit mining is one of the extraction methods of oil sands. This method can render large tracts of land dried up and useless for decades.

- Remediation after the extraction process is finished can return the surface of the land to a similar appearance as before the extraction began, but shallow subterranean structures, such as aquifers and strata cannot be re-created.
Environmental Issues Associated with Alberta Oil Sands
- What are oil sands and where and how are they being extracted?

- What proportion of Canada’s energy usage is currently supplied by Alberta's oil sands?

- Is the use of oil sands sustainable and when are they estimated to run out?

- Where are the oil sands being extracted and can Canada be self-sufficient with this type of energy?

- What are the issues in regards with the environment associated with the oil sands?

- Advantages and disadvantages of the oil sands. (Eg. Economic, political and social issues)

- What innitiatives are in place to produce the oil sands in a clean and sustainable way and what could be done to make it better?

- Mini Case Study

Alberta Oil Sands
What are the Alberta Oil Sands?
- Oil sand (Also known as the Athabasca oil sands) is a type of energy extracted using a technique called surface mining.

- Athabasca oil sands are the only major oil sands deposits that are shallow enough to be extracted from the ground.

- In the sands extracted there are high amounts of bitumen, covered by a small amount of overburden.

- Typically 130 - 200 feet deep embedded sandstone and flat limestone.

- Oil sands production started commercially in 1960, although documents date back to production of oil sands during the early 1700's.


Canada's Energy Supply - Oil Sands
- During the year 2008, Canada had used approximately 2,215,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

- Roughly 845,376,500 barrels of crude oil were produced by the end of 2008 in Canada.

- Canada exported 2.23 million barrels per day of crude oil to the US equaling approximately 25 percent of the US total crude oil exports in 2011.

- In the year of 2011, Alberta itself collected 4.5 billion dollars in royalties from the oil sands project.

- As of January, 2013 there were 127 functioning oil sands mining sites active in Alberta.


Are the Oil Sands Sustainable and are they going to last?
- The oil sands cannot be seen as a sustainable resource because it is speculated that the naturally occuring oil sands were the result of an ancient ocean covering Alberta millions of years ago.

- Remains of the ocean left behind bacteria (Plankton) which removed most of the oxygen and nitrogen leaving behind hydrogen and carbon molecules.

- Heat and pressure caused by the layering of rock, silt and sand accumulated over time which pressure cooked the organic material.

- The organic material decomposed over time which also caused their carbon and hyrdrogen bonds to form hydrocarbons also known as oil.

- Due to the pressure from the Rocky Mountains the oil was forced north into the existing sand deposits left behind by ancient river beds forming the oil sands.

- This process was extremely long and because of that, the oil sands cannot be seen as truly sustainable.

- Unless this process takes place again, this energy source is non - renewable which also makes it unsustainable.

- However, this source is estimated to last approximately 150 years and will supply over 500,000 people jobs.

Where are the Oil Sands being Extracted and are they Self - Suffient?
- Most if not all of Canada's oil sands production can be found in the northeast half of the province of Alberta.

- The three most exploited locations of Alberta oil sands are located at:

- Cold Lake near Lloydminister,

- Peace River closeby the Grand Prairies

- The most profitable area, Athabaska oil sands mining site which can be found bordering Fort Mcmurry.

- Alberta is one of the three largest producers of oil sands along with Saudi Arabia and Venezuala.

- Canada could be extremely self sufficient with the oil sand energy but instead the majority of the produced oil sands is exported to the US.

- However, Canada could be seen as self sufficent with this energy because Canada is one of the largest exporters of oil to the US which means we do not have oil sands being imported.

Oil Sands Production Map
Environmental Issues Associated with Alberta Oil Sands
- The oil sands affect the four geo - spheres of our planet, the bioshphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and the lithosphere.

- The biosphere is affected because oil sands give off gasses such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides as well as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).

- These gas emissions have direct impact on human respiratory health. These emissions also the precursors to acid rain which leaches the nutrients out of the soil and, in high concentrations destroy the ecology of freshwater bodies such as lakes, streams and rivers.

- The PAH's have been proven to be the cause of cancer, a mutagenic, and to cause birth defects.
Environmental Issues Associated with Alberta Oil Sands (Cont.)
- Oil sands also impact our hydrosphere.

- The process of extracting oil sands involves a large amount of water. This water is taken from tailing ponds, and runoff water into streams and rivers.

- Traces of PAH's have been found in water sources near the oil sands richest mining site, Athabasca.

- The extraction/processing as well as the combustion of the oil impacts climate change, affecting weather and precipation causing droughts in some areas.

- The risk of oil spills during transportation of the product can also affect water sources if there were to be an oil spill, polluting water sources.
Environmental Issues Associated with Alberta Oil Sands
- The atmosphere is also affected by the production of the oil sands.

- The extraction and combustion of the oil sands causes the emissions of the greenhouse gasses to enter the atmoshphere on a global basis.

- This combustion also causes the emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxied, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) into the local, regional and national atmosphere, which has the potential to cause acid rain, as well as local air quality problems.
What are the Advantages of the Oil Sands
- The production of oil sands has many pros in regards with social, economic and political parties.

- Socially the advantages of oil sands are, they have provided 151,000 people with jobs while improving living conditions of Albertans.

- Revenue also improves public sector infrastucture and reduces taxes for Albertans.


- Infrastructure is not keeping up with population growth and taxes for necessities are increasing. For example, sewage, clean water and transportation (Eg. Roads, highways).



What are the Advantages of the Oil Sands (Continued)
- Canadas economy is also being impacted positively and negatively from the production of the oil sands.

- The advantages include the title of Canada being the third largest oil reserve in the world apart from Saudi Arabia and Venezuala.

- Alberta had an income of $3.56 in the year of 2012/2013.

- Creates over 112,000 jobs for people across Canada outside the province of Alberta.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Oil Sands (Continued)
- Canadas politics are also apart of the pros and cons of the production of the oil sands.

- The benefits of the oil sands towards Canadas government involve being self sufficient and not having to import oil from other countries as well as having leverage over other government in regards with the abundance of oil.

- The disadvantages include First Nations people are being left without consultation as there hunting land and other sacred land is being used to expand the oil sands. This is being done with little compensation being paid to First Nations.

Oil Sands - Initiatives
- The Oil Sands Sustainable Development Secretariat was created in 2007 by the government of Alberta.

- This group addresses the rapid growth issues in the oil sands regions of Alberta

- The "OSSDS" collaborates with ministries, industries, communities and stakeholders to address the social, infrastructure, environmental and economic impacts of oil sands development.

- This group acts as a main point of contact for inquiries from the industries, stakeholders and the public to manage growth in the oil sands.

- Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America with mandatory greenhouse gas emission targets.

- The OSSDS puts a price on carbon, a regulated carbon offset market and a clean energy technology fund worth over $398 million

- As of 2013 this clean energy plan has achieved real results with more than 40 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions.

- The Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring will be fully implemented by 2015.

- The Joint Canada Plan will result in increased sampling frequency, parameters, and locations
Oil Sands - Case Studies
- Albertas oil sands project occur in three different regions which consist of of a total of 140,200 km squared

- 1.7 trillion barrels of oil are estimated to be in the oil sands but only about 315 billion barrels are accessible with todays technology.

- This 315 billion barrels accounts for only 20% while the remainder 80% is buried 75 meters below the ground making it unnaccessible.

- Bitumen oil is extremely hard to be extracted because it is too viscous to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated.

- The two main ways of extracting bitumen oil is through open pit mining and situ drilling

- Open pit mining can only recover 20% of oil located in the sands and is the most used method right now

- Situ drilling involves drilling multiple wells into the ground. This is also called steam drilling which involves shooting steam underground through one well to melt the bitumen and then, in turn, forcing the liquefied bitumen up a second well.

Oil Sands - Case Studies
(Continued)
- According to Alberta Energy, recovery rate percentages vary depending on the method of extraction:

- 5-10% for primary recovery of conventional oil.

- Up to 20% using conventional enhanced oil recovery methods such as water flood or polymer flood.

- Up to 35-40% bitumen using cyclic steam stimulation.

- Up to 50-60% of bitumen using steam assisted gravity drainage.

- Up to 90% of bitumen from mining.

- In terms of land the main problem for ecosystems are the creation of tailing ponds, which are dangerous to the natural wildlife and plant life

- These tailing ponds are created through open pit mining and consist of a mixture of clay, water, bitumen and sand

- In terms of water, the oil sands project uses an abundance of water for extraction methods.

- Shell Canada uses a special technique that reduces the amount of water used in open-pit mining, which recaptures water used and lessens the impact on local rivers and streams.



Thanks for Listening!
Created by: Jonah Harris & Fraser Hurst



Proposal To government
Impacts of the oil sands
- The excavation and processing of the oil sands into fluidized bitumen creates CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane
- The oil sands extraction and processing process results in tailing ponds and runoff of water into local streams and rivers.
- the oil sands through extraction, processing of the raw product and combustion of the final product(s) will cause the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane into the atmosphere on a global basis
- The extraction of the oil sands by open pit mining can alienate large tracts of land for decades
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