Tar sands are an increasingly common—but expensive and dirty—source of oil. Pembina Institute Tar sands also known as oil sands are a mixture of mostly sand, clay, water, and a thick, molasses-like substance called bitumen. Bitumen is made of hydrocarbons—the same molecules in liquid oil—and is used to produce gasoline and other petroleum products. Extracting bitumen from tar sands—and refining it into products like gasoline—is significantly costlier and more difficult than extracting and refining liquid oil.
The Canadian tar sands industry is centered in Alberta, and more than one million barrels of synthetic oil are produced from these resources per day. The tar sands are extracted both by mining and in situ recovery methods see below. Canadian tar sands are different than U.
S tar sands are hydrocarbon wetted. As a result of this difference, extraction techniques for the tar sands in Utah will be different than for those in Alberta. Recently, prices for crude oil have again risen to levels that may make tar-sands-based oil production in the United States commercially attractive, and both government and industry are interested in pursuing the development of tar sands oil resources as an alternative to conventional oil.
New Tar sands in alberta introduced in the s considerably improved the efficiency of tar sands mining, thus reducing the cost. These systems use large hydraulic and electrically powered shovels to dig up tar sands and load them into enormous trucks that can carry up to tons of tar sands per load.
Tar Sands Extraction Separation Cell, Alberta, Canada After mining, the tar sands are transported to an extraction plant, where a hot water process separates the bitumen from sand, water, and minerals.
The separation takes place in separation cells.
T. Boone Pickens, a legendary Texas oil tycoon, was working Alberta's traditional oil rigs back in the '60s and remembers how he and his colleagues thought mining for oil sands was a joke. Oct 13, · With oil prices falling precipitously, capital-intensive projects rooted in the heavy crude mined from Alberta’s oil sands are losing money, contributing to the loss of about 35, energy. The top layer of muskeg and earth (right), and the underlying tar sands (left) after the removal of the muskeg, at the Syncrude tar sands operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta, on September 17,
Hot water is added to the sand, and the resulting slurry is piped to the extraction plant where it is agitated. The combination of hot water and agitation releases bitumen from the oil sand, and causes tiny air bubbles to attach to the bitumen droplets, that float to the top of the separation vessel, where the bitumen can be skimmed off.
Further processing removes residual water and solids. The bitumen is then transported and eventually upgraded into synthetic crude oil. See the Photos page for additional photos of tar sand processing facilities.
About two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed. In-situ production methods are used on bitumen deposits buried too deep for mining to be economically recovered.
These techniques include steam injection, solvent injection, and firefloods, in which oxygen is injected and part of the resource burned to provide heat.
So far steam injection has been the favoured method. Some of these extraction methods require large amounts of both water and energy for heating and pumping. Both mining and processing of tar sands involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land; impacts on wildlife and air and water quality.
The development of a commercial tar sands industry in the U. Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for tar sands processing; currently, tar sands extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.
For More Information Additional information on tar sands is available through the Web. Visit the Links page to access sites with more information.Knight was describing tar sands, a sludgy deposit of sand, clay, water, and sticky, black bitumen (used to make synthetic oil) that lies beneath northern Alberta’s boreal forest in .
The Peace River oil sands located in northwest-central Alberta are the smallest of the three major oil sands deposits in Alberta. The Peace River oil sands lie generally in the watershed of the Peace River, the largest river in Alberta.
A new book of aerial photographs, Beautiful Destruction, captures the awesome scale and devastating impact of Alberta’s oil sands with stunning colours, contrasts and patterns.
The book also. Oil sands, also known as tar sands or crude bitumen, or more technically bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. In addition to the three major Canadian oil sands in Alberta, there is a fourth major oil sands deposit in Canada.
T. Boone Pickens, a legendary Texas oil tycoon, was working Alberta's traditional oil rigs back in the '60s and remembers how he and his colleagues thought mining for oil sands was a joke.
The Dilbit Hits the Fan. If the Keystone XL pipeline is dead, what is the future of the Alberta tar sands? A visit to the headwaters of Canadian oil.