BIOL 3DD3 Presentation 3 - Oil Sands

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Oil Sands : 

General Effects - Group Two Oil Sands

What are Oil Sands? : 

Mixture of sand, water, and clay which trap heavy oil called bitumen. Largest deposit in Alberta, Canada. Athabasca deposit. Oil sands are dug up and bitumen gets separated for the production of goods (such as synthetic oil). What are Oil Sands?

Oil Sands - Bitumen : 

Oil sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. The bitumen in oil sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state. Instead, oil sand deposits are mined. Oil sands recovery processes include extraction and separation systems. Used to separate the bitumen from the clay, sand and water that comprise the tar sands. Bitumen also requires additional upgrading before it can be refined. Because bitumen is so viscous, it must be diluted with lighter hydrocarbons in order to make it transportable by pipelines. Since the 1920s, open pit mining has been central to oil sands development. Oil Sands - Bitumen

History of the Alberta Oil Sands : 

Historically, indigenous people used bitumen to waterproof their birch bark canoes. Athabasca oil sands was first noted by fur traders in 1719. The first government sponsored geological study of the Athabasca deposit was initiated in 1875. In 1967, the company Suncor made history by tapping the oil sands to produce the first commercial barrel of synthetic crude oil. In 2001, when US President Bush came into office, the price of oil was approximately $24/barrel. This price was too low for oil sand extraction be economical. By 2010, the price of oil is almost $100/barrel, making the extraction and conversion of oil sands fiscally feasible. Oil sands are now considered a serious alternative to conventional crude oil. History of the Alberta Oil Sands

Where are the Oil Reserves? : 

Where are the Oil Reserves?

Oil Reserves : 

Oil sands account for 46% of Canada’s total oil production. As oil sands production increases, conventional oil production declines. Canadian crude oil exports are roughly 1.82 million barrels a day(2006). Orinoco Tar Sands in Venezuela estimate a recoverable value of 513 billion barrels. Eastern Utah, USA – 32 billion barrels. Republic of Congo – 0.5 – 2.5 billion barrels (by Italian Oil Company, Eni). Oil Reserves

What Qualifies as a Reserve? : 

Discovered Commercially recoverable Still remaining What Qualifies as a Reserve?

Conventional Crude Oil : 

Also known as petroleum. Naturally occurring liquid composed of hydrocarbons. Recoverable from a well using standard production methods. Crude oil reservoirs Concentrated hydrocarbons forming an oil field. Liquid can then be extracted by drilling and pumping Primary extraction: Natural lift and artificial lift. Secondary extraction Waterflood and wellbore. Tertiary extraction Varies greatly in appearance based on it’s composition – usually black or dark brown. Usually found in association with natural gas. Conventional Crude Oil

Conventional Crude Oil : 

Major source of petroleum, but only a minority of crude oil currently in reserve. Refined and separated into large number of consumer products. From petrol and kerosene to asphalt, as well as chemical reagents used to make plastics and pharmaceuticals. Used as main source of petroleum because of it’s ideal characteristics. Cheaper to process. As the world’s light and medium crude oil reserves are being depleted the use of unconventional crude oil is increasing. Conventional Crude Oil

Environmental Effects : 

Environmental Effects

Environmental Effects : 

Effect not only immediate area Wide range effects on: Water Air and Atmosphere Land Environmental Effects

Environmental Effects – Water : 

Huge amounts of water are used in oil sands extraction and processing. Much of the water ends up in tailing ponds. Leads to increased pollution in surrounding areas. Extraction of pollutants requires dredging and other labour and financially intensive tactics. Environmental Effects – Water

Environmental Effects – Land : 

To reach the oil sands, must first remove ‘overburden’. Muskeg, sand, clay and gravel. Involves clearing large amounts of land and forest to reach the oil sands. Large scale mining operations leave the land bare and void of nutrients for future generations. Environmental Effects – Land

Environmental Effects – Air and Atmosphere : 

Extracting oil from oil sands requires large amounts of energy. Typically comes from burning fossil fuels. Burning of oil sands emits significantly more carbon dioxide than average crude oil emissions (10-15%). Environmental Effects – Air and Atmosphere

Other Extraction Processes : 

An oil well is a general term for any boring through the Earth’s surface designed to find and extract petroleum. The Life of an Oil Well: Planning Drilling A hole 5 – 36 inches in diameter is drilled into the Earth’s surface. Sections of steel pipe (casing) are fitted into the hole and cemented in position. Completion Small holes are made in the casing to provide a path for the oil to flow. Acid and fracturing fluids are pumped into the well in order to prepare reservoir rock. Production Fitted with a collection of valves to regulate the pressure, flow and allow access to the wellbore in case of repair. The flow of oil is usually connected to a distribution of pipelines and tanks. Abandonment When a well has reached its economic limit, it becomes a liability and is subsequently abandoned. A well is said to have reached its economic limit when its production rate no longer covers its expenses. Other Extraction Processes

Oil Pumpjack in Midland, Texas, USA : 

Oil Pumpjack in Midland, Texas, USA

Offshore Drilling and Platforms : 

Offshore Drilling encompasses the discovery and development of oil resources underwater. Poses its own set of environmental concerns and challenges. Oil spills from tankers or pipelines transporting oil to shore. Dumping of drilling fluids into marine environments. A large structure with facilities to drill wells and extract and process oil, as well as export the products to shore. The platform may be fixed to the ocean floor, on an artificial island or may float. Life of an Offshore Rig is similar to those onshore. Offshore Drilling and Platforms A typical offshore oil platform.

Offshore Platform in the Gulf of Mexico, USA : 

Offshore Platform in the Gulf of Mexico, USA

Cost of Oil Drilling : 

A deep water drilling rig has operation costs of $420,000/day. Onshore wells are considerably cheaper, particularly if the well is shallow. 100 days of operation typically cost between $1 – 15 million. These total projected costs does not account for the costs associated with the risk of explosion and leakage. Insurance Clean – up efforts Damage to company’s image Cost of Oil Drilling

The Debate Between Oil Sands and Offshore Drilling : 

“I think it’s always been clear that the oil sands provide a safe, stable, secure supply of energy and they need to be developed in an environmentally responsible way. The risks associated with the oil sands, the environmental risks, are significantly different than, and probably less than the kind of risks associated with offshore drilling.” – Jim Prentice, Canadian Environment Minister, on the importance of oil sands after the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Debate Between Oil Sands and Offshore Drilling

Canada 2020 – Greening the Oil Sands Symposium (June 2010, Washington, D.C.) : 

Gary Doer, Canadian Ambassador to USA, said that the use of coal-fired electrical generation in the US represents 60 times more carbon emissions in the US than oil sands do in North America. John Abbott, an executive at Shell Canada, made the case that there are many misconceptions about the oil sands. While resources cover 140,000 square kilometres, only 3% is able to be extracted. Oil sands have 5 – 15% more greenhouse gas life cycle emissions than light crude extraction. That is similar to the level of emissions of extraction in Mexico and Venezuela (who the US import a part of their total oil). David Lynch, the dean of engineering at the University of Alberta,  described a variety of research and public-private pilot projects to improve the environmental impact, and noted that emissions have dropped by two-thirds since the 1980s. In response, John Podesta challenged these arguments: “Oil extraction from oil sands is polluting, destructive, expensive, and energy intensive … suggesting that this process can come close to approximating being ‘green’ is largely misleading or far too optimistic or both. It stands alongside “clean coal” and error-free deep-water drilling”. “Toxic tailing ponds cover an area the size of Washington, DC, he said, and threaten wildlife and possibly human health”. “[Oil Sands] use enough water to supply 6 cities of one million people for a year”. “We’ve got to do better than making oil sands oil look like a barrel of light crude”. Canada 2020 – Greening the Oil Sands Symposium (June 2010, Washington, D.C.)

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