Athabasca Tar Sands

Caitlyn Grayston
Note by Caitlyn Grayston, updated more than 1 year ago
Caitlyn Grayston
Created by Caitlyn Grayston about 4 years ago


A-Level Geography (A Level Energy Security) Note on Athabasca Tar Sands, created by Caitlyn Grayston on 06/03/2017.

Resource summary

Page 1

Athabasca Tar Sands, Canada: Higher oil prices and new technology means unconventional oil deposits are now economically viable The Athabasca deposit in Alberta is estimated to contain between 1.75 and 2 trillion barrels of oil Tar sands also called bitumen and oil sands, are any bitumen rich sandy deposits Athabasca in Alberta and Orinico in Venezuela are the two most promising deposits and together are the two most promising deposits and together contain 2/3 of the worlds oil deposits Exploitation of Tar Sands: Clear Forests Open cast mining to extract sediments Crush and mix with water Pressurise and use steam to separate bitumen from sand - 2-5 barrels of water per barrel of oil Leaves polluted water Key Players: Greenpeace Oil companies - Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP Canada Alaska

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Costs of exploiting tar sands:Economic; Expensive - only viable when oil costs over $30 a barrel - costs $15 to extract oil from bitumen compared to $2 for conventional crude oil Enery intensive - takes one barrel of oil to produce 3 barrels Takes 2-5 barrels of water to make 1 barrel of oil Environmental; Tar sands are a large source of greenhouse gases 2 tonnes of tar sand needed to make 1 barrel of oil leaving lots of waste sand Deforestation - 470 km squared of forest destroyed Toxic waste water covers 130 km squared Social;Non-renewable

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Benefits of exploiting tar sands:Economic; In 2007 oil accountd for 20% of Canadian exports By 2050 tar sands could meet 16% of North America's demand Environmental;Mining companies are required to reclaim land disturbed by miningSocial;Provides alternative source when conventional sources are unavailable Overall the exploitation of tar sands is not worth it because it comes with more costs than benefits. Also it is not a sustainable way of getting oil because it uses up other valuable resources in order to extract it. It also destroys the environment in order to collect it e.g. deforestation. However it is a secure short term resource until we can develop renewable technology

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