Light Tight Oil.
Alberta today. The oil sands sector accounts for roughly one-quarter of Alberta’s annual emissions. Oil sands facilities are currently charged a Specified Gas Emitter Regulation (SGER) levy based on each individual facility’s historical emissions, irrespective of how intense (e.g. tonnes of GHG per barrel produced) or efficient that. The Athabasca oil sands first came to the attention of European fur traders in when Wa-pa-su, a Cree trader, brought a sample of bituminous sands to the Hudson's Bay Company post at York Factory on Hudson Bay where Henry Kelsey was the manager.
An unknown number of birds die each year. Particularly visible and hard hit are migrating birds that stop to rest at tailing ponds. There have been numerous reports of large flocks of ducks landing in tailing ponds and perishing soon after.
There has also been a large impact on the fish that live and spawn in the area. As toxins accumulate in the river due to the oil sands, bizarre mutations, tumors, and deformed fish species have begun to appear.
A study commissioned by the region's health authority found that several known toxins and carcinogens were elevated. While there has been no link yet made between the oil sands and health issues, Matt Price of Environmental Defense says the connection makes common sense.
Deformities in fish and high concentrations of toxic substances in animals have also been identified. Large volumes of tailings are a byproduct of bitumen extraction from the oil sands and managing these tailings is one of the most difficult environmental challenges facing the oil sands industry.
A major hindrance to the monitoring of oil sands produced waters has been the lack of identification of individual compounds present. By better understanding the nature of the highly complex mixture of compounds, including naphthenic acids , it may be possible to monitor rivers for leachate and also to remove toxic components.
Such identification of individual acids has for many years proved to be impossible but a breakthrough in in analysis began to reveal what is in the oil sands tailings ponds.
Mature tailings dredged from a pond bottom in suspension were mixed with a polymer flocculant and spread over a "beach" with a shallow grade where the tailings would dewater and dry under ambient conditions.
The dried MFT can then be reclaimed in place or moved to another location for final reclamation. Suncor hoped this would reduce the time for water reclamation from tailings to weeks rather than years, with the recovered water being recycled into the oil sands plant. Suncor claimed the mature fines tailings process would reduce the number of tailing ponds and shorten the time to reclaim a tailing pond from 40 years at present to 7—10 years, with land rehabilitation continuously following 7 to 10 years behind the mining operations.
By Suncor had transformed their first tailings pond, Pond One, into Wapisiw Lookout, the first reclaimed settling basin in the oil sands. In the area was a hectare pond of toxic effluent but several years later there was firm land planted with black spruce and trembling aspen. Wapisiw Lookout represents only one percent of tailings ponds in but Pond One was the first effluent pond in the oil sands industry in and was used until By only 65 square kilometres were cleaned up and about one square kilometre was certified by Alberta as a self-sustaining natural environment.
Wapisiw Lookout has not yet been certified. Closure operations of Pond One began in The jello-like mature fine tails MFT were pumped and dredged out of the pond and relocated to another tailings pond for long-term storage and treatment. The MFT was then replaced with 30 million tonnes clean sand and then topsoil that had been removed from the site in the s. It was then planted with reclamation plants. In March an alliance of oil companies called Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance COSIA was launched with a mandate to share research and technology to decrease the negative environmental impact of oil sands production focusing on tailings ponds, greenhouse gases, water and land.
Almost all the water used to produce crude oil using steam methods of production ends up in tailings ponds. In January , scientists from Queen's University published a report analyzing lake sediments in the Athabasca region over the past fifty years.
Levels of carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic PAHs were substantially higher than guidelines for lake sedimentation set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment in The team discovered that the contamination spread farther than previously thought. The Pembina Institute suggested that the huge investments by many companies in Canadian oil sands leading to increased production results in excess bitumen with no place to store it. The oil sands industry may build a series of up to thirty lakes by pumping water into old mine pits when they have finished excavation leaving toxic effluent at their bottoms and letting biological processes restore it to health.
It is less expensive to fill abandoned open pit mines with water instead of dirt. An engineered water body, located below grade in an oil sands post-mining pit. It may contain oil sands by-product material and will receive surface and groundwater from surrounding reclaimed and undisturbed landscapes.
EPLs will be permanent features in the final reclaimed landscape, discharging water to the downstream environment. CEMA acknowledged that the "main concern is the potential for EPLs to develop a legacy of toxicity and thus reduce the land use value of the oil sands region in the future. In July , one of the largest leaks in Canada's history spilled 5, cubic metres of emulsion — about 5 million litres of bitumen, sand and wastewater — from a Nexen Energy pipeline at a Long Lake oil sands facility, south of Fort McMurray.
An explosion left one worker dead and another seriously injured at the Chinese-owned Nexen Energy facility in the Long Lake oil sands near Anzac , south of Fort McMurray  The two maintenance workers involved were found near natural gas compression equipment used for a hydrocracker, which turns heavy oil into lighter crude, at the plant's main processing facility, known as an upgrader.
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 s, 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, in , the boomtown of Fort McMurray and the surrounding region known as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo grew to 79, people as of , including a "shadow population" of 10, living in work camps,  leaving the community struggling to provide services and housing for migrant workers, many of them from Eastern Canada, especially Newfoundland.
Fort McMurray ceased to be an incorporated city in and is now an urban service area within Wood Buffalo. These estimates of Canada's reserves 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. By 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. 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. 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.
The capital cost of the equipment required to mine the sands and haul it to processing is a major consideration in starting production. 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 by a hostile national government, or be endangered by a war or revolution.
As a result of the oil price increases since , the economics of oil sands have improved dramatically. In and the oil price was high again, but the US production is increasing due to new technologies, while the gasoline demand is falling, so there is an overproduction of oil. But recovering economy can change this in a few years. 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, Alberta Highway 63 , 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.
The Athabasca oil sands are often a topic in international trade talks, with energy rivals China and the United States negotiating with Canada for a bigger share of the rapidly increasing output.
Currently, most of the oil sands production is exported to the United States. If it is built, the pipeline will help export synthetic crude oil from the oil sands to China and elsewhere in the Pacific. 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.
Sinopec , the largest refining and chemical company in China, and China National Petroleum Corporation have bought or are planning to buy shares in major oil sands development. On August 20, , the U. The oil sands themselves are located within the boundaries of Treaty 8 , signed in , 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.
The Fort McKay First Nation has formed several companies to service the oil sands industry and will be developing a mine on their territory. While many companies argue that there are not enough chemicals and toxic material in the water due to the development of the oil sands, this report indicates that there is coincidentally a significantly higher rate of cancer within this community.
There have been many speculations as to why there is a higher rate of cancer in this community; some of those speculations are contamination with the river and the oil sands as well as uranium mining that is currently in progress.
The world's largest production of uranium is produced in this area as well as along the Athabasca River, allowing for easy contamination of the river. Pipeline development poses significant risks to the cultural, social, and economic way of life of Canada's Indigenous populations. Historically, many Indigenous groups have opposed pipeline development for two primary reasons: For instance, many Indigenous groups rely heavily on local wildlife and vegetation for their survival.
Increased oil production in Canada requires greater oil transport through their traditional lands, which poses serious threats to the survival and traditional way of life of Indigenous groups, as well as the safety and preservation of the surrounding ecosystems.
As well, First Nation's in Alberta have called particular attention to adverse health impacts related to oil sands emissions, asserting that the water quality testing for specific chemicals heavy metals has been insufficient. Aside from environmental concerns, many Indigenous groups have pushed back against pipeline development due to inadequate consultation processes by the federal government. As per Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act  Indigenous peoples in Canada are guaranteed the right to be meaningfully consulted with and accommodated when the Crown is contemplating resource development on their lands - see Duty to Consult.
Through a series of Supreme Court of Canada rulings and political protests from Indigenous peoples see Haida Nation v. British Columbia [Minister of Forests] , Taku River Tlingit First Nation v British Columbia, and Tsilhqot'in Nation v British Columbia , among others, the courts have attempted to further define the Crown's consultation responsibilities and give legal recognition to Indigenous traditional territory and rights regarding resource development. Contrarily, oil sands development also presents many positive impacts and opportunities for Indigenous groups, particularly in Western Canada.
In fact, over the past two decades, First Nations participation in the energy sector has increased dramatically, from employment and business opportunities to project approval processes and environmental evaluation. Increased Indigenous participation has been encouraged by numerous collaboration agreements with industry, typically in the form of impact benefit agreements IBAs , which provide not only employment and business ventures, but also job training and community benefits.
Major producing or planned developments in the Athabasca Oil Sands include the following projects: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Athabasca Oil Sands. This article is about the bitumen deposit.
For the corporation, see Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. History of the petroleum industry in Canada oil sands and heavy oil. Environmental issues surrounding oil sands exploitation. Oil sands tailings ponds. This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.
Archived from the original on 21 May Alberta Energy and Utilities Board. Archived from the original PDF on Archived from the original on The Globe and Mail.
Archived from the original on 20 February Earth Sciences Report — Archived from the original PDF on 27 February Unlocking the Potential of the Oil Sands. Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta. Retrieved 6 July — via www. Retrieved 27 August Sixty-one years ago, a lowly Calgary employee of U. The message spit in the eye of his local managers in Alberta: Sun Oil divested its stake in the company in the early s. Suncor's pre-eminence stems directly from Great Canadian Oil Sands, the first commercial oil sands project, which was launched by Sun Oil in Archived from the original on 21 February This article contains an informative map of existing and projected oil pipelines.
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Retrieved 23 October Retrieved 9 January Phasing out coal pollution Pollution from coal-fired electricity generation will be phased out by under the Climate Leadership Plan.
Capping oil sands emissions Transitioning to an output-based allocation approach and a legislated limit to oil sands emissions under the Climate Leadership Plan. Overview The Climate Leadership Plan is a made-in-Alberta strategy designed to diversify our economy, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Key aspects of our plan include: Revenue generated from the levy will pay for initiatives that support reducing emissions and transitioning to a diversified and lower carbon economy, including: Putting a price on carbon is the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Two-thirds of Alberta households will receive carbon levy rebates. Use our calculator to find out if you qualify. Funds raised by the carbon levy help pay for initiatives to reduce emissions and support Albertans transition.
Phasing out coal pollution. An initiative to support municipalities and First Nations impacted by the phase-out of coal in Alberta. Financial, employment and retraining supports for workers affected by the end of coal-fired electricity generation in Alberta.
Consulted with communities and workers affected by the end of coal-fired electricity generation to identify challenges and opportunities. Stable electricity prices for Alberta families, farms, businesses and the economy. Creating a reliable electricity system that is affordable for Albertans and attractive to investors. Renewable Electricity Program — Overview. This new provincial agency delivers programs to help families, businesses and communities become more energy efficient. New micro-generation rules allow Albertans to generate more of their own electricity.
Provides financial incentives to Alberta municipalities who install grid-connected solar panels on municipal facilities or land. Helps agriculture producers purchase solar panel systems to generate electricity and reduce emissions on farms. A pilot program that provides grants to Indigenous communities and organizations to install solar systems on their facilities. Capping oil sands emissions. Alberta's approach to reduce emissions from large industrial emitters, attract investment in clean technology and create jobs.
University of Alberta — Centre for Constitutional Studies.
Retrieved August 28, Amongst those of British origins, the Scots have had a particularly strong influence on place-names, with the names of many cities and towns including Calgary, Airdrie , Canmore , and Banff having Scottish origins.