Since there are so many environmental impacts that can be discussed, the main concerns have been broken down into several core issues including: Extracting oil sands also have considerable impacts on people, especially First Nations peoples. Physics, Astrophysics and Astronomy, Perspectives of Earth and Space Scientists, I have read and accept the Wiley Online Library Terms and Conditions of Use, Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, The landscape infrastructure footprint of oil development: Venezuela's heavy oil belt, Variability and uncertainty in life cycle assessment models for greenhouse gas emissions from Canadian oil sands production, Water depletion: An improved metric for incorporating seasonal and dry‐year water scarcity into water risk assessments, Carbon emissions from forest conversion by Kalimantan oil palm plantations, Understanding the Canadian oil sands industry's greenhouse gas emissions, The future of oil: Unconventional fossil fuels, CIESIN‐ Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, Gridded Population of the World, Version 4 (GPWv4): Population Count, Hot water separation of Alberta bituminous sand, National Inventory Report, 1990–2010, and Natural Resources Canada, High‐resolution global maps of 21st‐century forest cover change, North American Oil Sands: History of Development, Prospects for the Future, Land and water impacts of oil sands production in Alberta, Oil sands development contributes elements toxic at low concentrations to the Athabasca River and its tributaries, Water Consumption of Energy Resource Extraction, Processing, and Conversion, Expanding the boundaries of agricultural development, Energy consumption and greenhouse Gas emissions in upgrading and refining of Canada's oil sands products, Mapping the world's intact forest landscapes by remote sensing, An assessment of world hydrocarbon resources, Oil sands mining and reclamation cause massive loss of peatland and stored carbon, The water‐land‐food nexus of first‐generation biofuels, Death by a Thousand Cuts: Impacts of In Situ Oil Sands Development on Alberta's Boreal Forest, National Gap Analysis Program. In the oil sands area, the Government of Alberta has committed to conserving and protecting more than 2 million hectares of habitat for native species as part of the 2012–2022 Lower Athabasca Regional Plan. Hence, deforestation and oil sands extraction operations are expected to be followed by several decades of recovery to again reach land predevelopment abilities of carbon sequestration capacity. In the most positive scenario of oil sands development, by 2035 employment is expected to grow to 2.2 million jobs in the United States and Canada [Canadian Energy Research Institute, 2011]. Published On: September 17, 2014. Small Bodies, Solar Systems Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues. For this reason the current trend, influenced by low oil prices, is to increase mining production instead of in situ extraction [PetroLMI, 2016]. Environmental and Economic Implications of the Biogeochemistry of Oil Sands Bitumens. Oil sand extraction results in the accumulation of large amounts of residual waste known as tailings, which contain a mixture of water, clay, un-recovered bitumen and solvent, and dissolved chemicals, including some organic compounds that are toxic. By 2040, oil sands will likely play an important role in meeting growing energy demand [Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2016a; U.S. EIA, 2016a, 2016b], accounting for about 6% of global oil supply [Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2016a] and about 25% of total oil supply in North and South America [Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2016a]. performed research; L.R. Thus the increasing reliance on oil sands extraction may raise new water security concerns in countries where deposits are located in water stressed watersheds (Utah), thereby exacerbating competing water uses within the context of the water‐energy nexus [Rulli et al., 2016]. This analysis used forest cover data that were available from 2000 to 2014 and therefore did not include the 2016 “Wood Buffalo” wildfire that burned about 5800 km2 of forest within oil sands deposits in Alberta [Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, 2016]. Interestingly, the gasoline produced from secondary conventional oil recovery techniques (i.e., water flooding) requires almost the same amount of water used to produce gasoline from mined oil sands (Table 4). Oxy-Cracking Reaction for Enhanced Settling and Dewaterability of Oil Sands Tailings. The Water‐Energy Nexus of Hydraulic Fracturing: A Global Hydrologic Analysis for Shale Oil and Gas Extraction. However, the “carbon debt” of such comprehensive land use changes likely longer than a decades‐scale recovery [Jordaan, 2012; Rooney et al., 2012]. #150, 3512 - 33 Street NW, Calgary, AB, T2L 2A6. [2007]. Water depletion was calculated as the fraction of renewable water consumptively used for human activities [Brauman et al., 2016]. Environmental Issues and Impacts of Oil Sands Development. Because of their long lifespan (and the consequently lower sensitivity to short‐term fluctuations in crude oil price), oil sands deposits are drawing increasing interest from oil and gas corporations. where wt% is the average bitumen content, that ranges from 8 to 12% [Oil Sands Magazine, 2015a] of the mined oil sands ore reported as weight percent. Approval of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, designed to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta, Canada through the mid-section of the United States, increases the urgency to understand better the potential harms of exposure to this product. As with the extraction and use of any fossil fuel, negative environmental effects arise as a result of the extraction, upgrading, and processing of bitumen from the oil sands. While the mining extraction almost entirely relies on water from the Athabasca River (i.e., freshwater resources), the in situ activities use brackish and saline groundwater that is treated before being turned into steam (Figures 3 and 4), likely because of existing regulations limiting the withdrawals of fresh groundwater in Alberta [Alberta Energy Regulator, 2011]. The biggest factor in the industry’s future, however, may be the price of oil, whose drop has led many international oil companies to write down their Canadian reserves or sell their holdings to Canadian firms. Conversely, forest vegetation is completely cleared within mining operations. Because in this region forest fires cause substantial forest loss, the effect of fire on deforestation was removed using Alberta's historical spatial wildfire data [Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, 2015], assuming that forest loss by fire would occur even in the absence of oil sands extraction.

Learn more about land reclamation in the oil sands. Overall, in situ drilling is more expensive [Humphries, 2008] and has less environmental impacts in terms of water use and forest loss; however, it requires more energy and has a bitumen recovery rate lower than mining (up to 60% for in situ versus 90% for mining) [Oil Sands Magazine, 2015b]. Following Hansen et al. Water stress areas were assessed overlaying the five oil sands deposit and concessions areas with a water depletion map [Brauman et al., 2016] (Table 4). While low oil prices (in years 2014, 2015, and 2016) have presently slowed extraction from oil sands deposits, investments are ongoing, with massive extraction for commercial production likely to take place as soon as oil prices become higher again. It is also unclear whether these deposits occur in areas of relative water scarcity and whether their extraction may enhance water stress.
1 barrel = 0.159 m, Volume of water required to extract one barrel of bitumen from mined oil sands in Canada. Journal of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Nonlinear To convert from barrels of bitumen to cubic meters of bitumen, we considered an American Petroleum Institute gravity of bitumen equal to 8°. The environmental impact of the oil sands is an issue that has been extremely divisive. Core pixels were also further classified into three subcategories, based on the size of the contiguous forest core they belong to (<100 ha, 100–200 ha, or >200 ha). Study No. Burning of fossil fuels for energy also produces other air pollutants such as criteria air contaminants, the impact of which have been examined in the region. Here we examine forest loss and water use for the world's major oil sands deposits. L.R., K.F.D., M.C.R., and P.D. Because there’s so much less of it than conventional oil, coal and natural gas, oil from Canadian tar sands accounts for 0.1 percent of the world’s … We found that 2.8 L of water were required to obtain a liter of bitumen using in situ drilling (Figure 3; Table 5), while surface mining required 28.5 L of water per liter of bitumen (Figure 4).

Geophysics, Mathematical Source: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (as of October 2015).

This rise has been driven by increasing global energy demand [Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2016a; U.S. EIA, 2016a, 2016b], continuing dependence on fossil fuels [Exxon Mobil Corporation, 2016a; U.S. EIA, 2016a, 2016b], relative scarcity of conventional oil sources [Gordon, 2012] and technological innovations that have reduced extraction and processing costs [Speight, 2013]. Collectively, these deposits account for the majority of assessed reserves of recoverable crude oil from oil sands, and cover an area of 162,750 km2, which is comparable to the size of Tunisia. The Government of Alberta requires that companies remediate and reclaim 100 percent of the land after the oil sands have been extracted.

The Impact on Water Consumption in Alberta. and Chemical Oceanography, Physical Map of forest cover and forest loss from 2000 to 2015 and oil sands deposit in Venezuela. Most global oil sands reserves are expected to be put under production and exploited in the near future [U.S. EIA, 2016d].

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