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Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil Sands

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil Sands

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  • October 29, 2012
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Oil Sands

Oil sands are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. They are loose sand or partially consolidated sandstone that contains natural mixtures of clay and sand, saturated with a viscous form of petroleum. Natural petroleum deposits are reported in many countries, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada; 70.8% of the globally estimated oil sand reserves are in Canada.

Most of the oil sands of Canada are located in northern Alberta. They cover over 140,000 square kilometers—an area larger than England—and hold proven reserves of 1.75 trillion barrels (280×109 m3) of petroleum in place. Canadians have worked on the technology of extracting oil sands for energy production since the 1970’s, with assistance from the government and increasingly, US oil companies.

Oil sands can be used as an energy resource and the large quantities of deposits in Canada eliminates the need to import oil from foreign countries. This will create more jobs in Canada for the processing of oil. Also, other countries will purchase oil from Canada, which will benefit the Canadian economy. Other advantages of oil sands are the technology development and the fact that it can be converted into crude oil without changing the energy producing system. Technology today is able to process oil sands to make useful energy, and further development in the future will allow us to expand production. Also, the final product of oil sands is crude oil, so all that’s needed for this resource is to build more pipelines and refineries and place it into our current system. It saves the trouble of building an entirely new system for an energy resource.

The heavy crude oil extracted from oil sands is a viscous semisolid that does not easily flow at normal oil pipeline temperatures, making it difficult to transport to market and expensive to process into gasoline, diesel and fuel. It must be either mixed with lighter petroleum or chemically split...