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The Tar Sands
Transcript of The Tar Sands
to Alberta Unfortunatley, it doesn't always look like this... What are the Tar Sands? Tar Sands, also known as oil sands, are petroleum deposits found in sandstone deep beneath the ground. These deposits are a combination of sand, clay, water and bitumen, a heavy, thick oil. They are found in very large quantities in Alberta, Canada and in other countries around the world. This is the reality of the tar sands. But do you really know what you're looking at? Formation of the Tar Sands The tar sands are the product of millions of years of decomposition
When organisms died in large quantities (such as the K-T extinction) the sediments which held their remains were buried at the bottom of a vast inland sea
As they were buried deeper, the heat and pressure caused the carbohydrates to turn into hydrocarbons (liquid hydrocarbons known as oil)
The oil bearing sediments were eventually covered with kilometers of sedimentary rock and spread out and saturated large areas of sandstone What are we mining? OIL The oil is found within deposits of bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water Therefore the oil needs to be separated and upgraded in order for it to be used. Mining Methods There are 7 different types of mining that can be used in the extraction of oil:
1. Surface Mining (open pit)
2. Cold Flow
3. Cyclic Steam Simulation (CSS)
4. Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)
5. Solvent Extraction
6. Toe to Heel Air Injection (THAI)
7. Combustion Overhead Gravity Drainage (COGD) 10% open pit
90% cold flow & others
makes up about 10% of Alberta mining techniques
Only occurs when oil is close enough to surface (within 75m)
Invloves strip mining, open pit mining, mountain removal and highwall mining
High environmental distruction Surface Mining How it works: In the tar sands, dredging is the most common form of surface mining.
Each type of surface mining involves removing the top layers of soil to get to the desired mineral
A dredge is any type of machinery used to excavate and remove materials from a body of water
This occurs in geological environments such as lakes and rivers Cold Flow resulting slurry is piped to the extraction plant where it is agitated
Primary mining method of tar sands
Oil is pumped out of the sand with progressive cavity pumps
Only occurs in places where oil is fluid enough
Advantage: cheap Disadvantage: only recovers 5-6% of oil present
By removing sand filters in pumps,(therefore extracting both oil and sand) about 10% of oil present is recovered
Advantage: better production rates Disadvantage: disposing of produced sand How it works: The progressive cavity pump transfers fluid through the pump, of a sequence of small, fixed shape cavities, as its rotor is turned. Pumps are relatively small in size on the surface Processing Before the oil is fit for conventional refineries it needs to be pre-processed. This pre-processing is known as upgrading, through three main components: 1. Removal of water, sand, physical waste, and lighter products
2. Catalytic purification by hydrodemetallisation (HDM), hydrodesulfurization (HDS) and hydrodenitrogenation (HDN)
3. Hydrogenation through carbon rejection or catalytic hydrocracking (HCR) It is then processed into compounds such as gasoline and diesel. All these processes take large amounts of water and energy, this also releasing large amounts carbon dioxide. After the bitumen has been separated, it must be diluted in order for it to be able to travel through pipelines. Locations How Bitumen is extracted: a hot water process 1. hot water is added to sand 2. resulting slurry is piped to the extraction plant where it is agitated 3. hot water and agitation release bitumen from oil sand 4. released air bubbles cling onto bitumen droplets and rise to surface which are then skimmed off Uses of Oil: The largest oil deposits are found in Alberta Canada and Venezuela
Alberta has three main deposit locations: Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake
Other deposits are found in various countries throughout the Middle East Oil has many economic uses, from the gasoline in our cars to everyday household products.
The graph above shows the uses of oil through
the percentage used per barrel. Economic Information The economic value of oil is always varying based on supply and demand. Oil is growing more economically important. Value of crude oil (Jan. 3rd 2013): $92. 77 / barrel
Production: Approx. 30,000 million barrels of oil / year
Approx. 73.04 million barrels / day
Major Producer's: Russia, Canada, Venezuela,
Canada's Ranking: 6th highest oil producer in the world,
produces about 4% of the world's oil
Major Consumers: 1. USA 2. China 3. Japan ... 7. Canada Environmental Impacts The tar sands negatively affect the environment in a variety of ways. 1. Air Pollution
2. Land Usage and Waste Management
3. Water Management
4. Greenhouse Gas Emissions
5. Public Health Impacts Air Pollution The air quality in Alberta began testing in 1995. Ever since then, there has been no change or improvement in the five main air quality pollutants:
carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and sulfur dioxide
On numerous occasions, ground level hydrogen sulfide has exceeded standards.
This proves a huge threat to wildlife and Canadian ecosystems, including human health. Land Usage and Waste Management The tar sands mining operations involve clear cutting many forests and removing the overburden (topsoil, muskeg, gravel, clay) which is the material above an area of economic interest.
Disposing of sand after it has been separated from the bitumen is also a problem. Currently, their solution is dumping it on rural roads. This became a growing concern due to the amount of oil left on the roads. Instead, they now dispose the oil sand in underground into salt caverns.
This again has many negative long-term affects on ecosystems. Water Management Between 2 to 4.5 volume units of water are used to produce each volume unit of synthetic crude oil in tar sand mining operations
The Canadian Oil Sands operations used about 349 million cubic meters of water each year, twice the amount of the city of Calgary, nearly all of which ends up in tailings ponds
The lakes in Alberta are so toxic that propane cannons are used to keep wildlife away
This polluted water is evaporated into the atmosphere and transformed into acid rain
The acidity in the water and soil rises, killing many organisms and poisoning ecosystems
Potential oil spills also pose a large threat to aquatic wildlife Greenhouse Gas Emissions FACT: Alberta is responsible for 1/3 of Canada's emissions Oil sands industry has been identified as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions growth in Canada
It accounts for 40 million tons of CO2 emissions
The majority of these emissions come from the mass amounts of energy used in the hot water bitumen extraction process
These emissions greatly contribute to global warming and make up about 0.2% of the entire world's greenhouse gas emissions Tar sand operations also demand diverting rivers and in some cases removing them entirely
In 2007, Environment Canada conducted a study that shows high deformity rates in fish embryos exposed to the oil sands
Fish that have been exposed to the tar sands often have more deformities and tumors Canada's Growing Economic Dependency
on the Tar Sands Here's a quick introduction video: Public Health Impacts It has been proven that communities exposed to the tar sands have higher than normal cancer rates including residents of Fort Chipewyan
In a 2006 study, it was found that moose had as high as 453 times the amount of acceptable arsenic in their system (a poisonous element)
This is a danger for human consumption
Air, water, and wildlife pollution all have a direct impact on public health Change for the Future Organizations such as Greenpeace already have began raising awareness against the Tar Sands.
Some environmental changes have been set in place however there is much more work to be done.
If you'd like to learn more about the Tar Sands, or help raise awareness, visit www.greenpeace.org Reclaiming the Mines This video explains the life cycle of a mine, from birth to rebirth including the process of reclamation. Reclamation is an important step responsible business owners should take to begin recovering from oil mining Of the 420 square km of land that has been disturbed, approx. 65 square km of it has been reclaimed. Works Cited: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_sands
Interesting Facts: 1. By 2015, the Alberta Oil Sands are expected to emit more greenhouse gases than the nation of Denmark (pop. 5.4 million).
2. Alberta ranks third, after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, in terms of proven global crude oil reserves.
3. By 2020, crude bitumen production is expected to more than double to 3.5 million bbl/d.
4. Alberta became the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions for large industrial facilities.
5. Alberta’s oil sands underlie 140,200 km2 (54,132 square miles).
6. 23 billion cubic feet of water are diverted every year from the local river. That's 7 times more than what the region's capital uses.