GeneralOil Sands

Canada’s Oil Sands: The Business With the Black Gold

Canada's oil sands

The USA does not receive most of its oil from its new fracking process, nor does it come from the Middle East. The USA’s oil comes from Canada, specifically from Canada’s oil sands. Every day, Canadians deliver over 3.5 million barrels to the USA.[1] It is crude oil extracted from oil sands, with a tremendous technical effort and disastrous consequences for nature. What’s even more shocking is that Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol in order to be able to do business with the oil sands.[2]

Canada’s oil sands

The province of Alberta lives only from and for the oil in the sand. The small town of Fort McMurray at the top of the mountain of dark brown sands is full of people living in a new, black gold rush. At the sides of the roads, they have put up masses of prefabricated houses to house the workers and businesses. The rising price of crude oil in recent years has made the costly extraction of oil from the sands profitable, and Canada is lucky – it has an estimated 168 billion barrels. That makes it the third-largest oil reserve in the world, right behind Saudi Arabia.[3]

But the price of extraction is frighteningly high for nature, which is why resistance is growing. Extracting a barrel of crude oil from the sands consumes a lot of energy. It needs ten times more power than conventional production from a conventional oil field. For 1,000 litres of oil from the oil sands, you require 8,000 litres of water. This water is highly toxic after the production process and has to be stored in special collecting basins and elaborately detoxified. [4]

The Canadians decided to leave the Kyoto Protocol because oil sands production has exponentially increased their emissions of greenhouse gases, which is against the principles of the treaty. Many Canadians see this as a national disgrace.

In addition, the health and lives of the indigenous Indian population in the oil sands areas are at risk.[5] Cancer rates are now 20 to 30 percent higher than the national average. But, Canada has made up its mind and is currently one of the world’s largest oil producers.

References:

[1] Markets, https://www.capp.ca/energy/markets/

[2] Canada pulls out of Kyoto protocol, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/dec/13/canada-pulls-out-kyoto-protocol

[3] Crude oil facts, https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/crude-oil-facts/20064

[4] Oil Sands, https://personal.ems.psu.edu/~pisupati/ACSOutreach/Oil_Sands.html#_Bitumen_extraction

[5] Oil Sands Development: A Health Risk Worth Taking?, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2679626/

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