The Development of Oil Sands in Alberta

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  • Topic: Athabasca Oil Sands, Oil sands, Petroleum
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  • Published : March 4, 2013
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The Development of Oil Sands in Alberta
Instructor: Dan Murray

Yifan Wang
University of Waterloo
15, February, 2013

A controversy around the development of oil sands in Alberta is developed in this report. Potential factors of its development, including economic, social, and environmental factors, are taken into consideration. All the information contained in this report is retrieved from other materials, such as peer review, journals, government reports, and online news. All the points mentioned in this report are supported by experts and government. Basic information about oil sands and background information are first introduced. Economic and social benefits and three main environmental effects are listed in the report. Several new technologies and regulations are recommended to be adapted into the development of oil sands. Some regulations are suggested to manage and monitor the behaviors of companies in the process of exploration and extraction.

Table of content
III.Benefits and costs of oil sands2
3.1.Economic growth2
3.2.Social benefits3
3.3.Environmental issues5

I. Introduction
In the kingdom of energy, coal is gradually losing its position as the most used energy resource in the world. On the contrary, oil has become one of the most significant energy resources in people’s life. Meanwhile, researchers have found many other natural resources that can become substitutes of oil. Oil sands are one of these resources. “The oil sands are a thick, viscous mixture of bitumen hydrocarbons combined with water, sand, heavy metals and clay” (Alberta Canada, 2012). A great controversy between the economic and social benefits and environmental costs of oil sands has been developed for a long time. From a comprehensive perspective, the development of oil sands should be recommended and encouraged. It will benefit the scale of whole Canada, and even North American. II. Background

In Canada, the biggest oil sands are located in northern Alberta. The proven oil reserves are 170.8 billion barrels, which can satisfy the demands for energy and oil for more than 50 years (Alberta government, 2012). With the current technologies, there are two main methods for extracting the oil sands: mining and in-situ (government of Alberta, 2011). Compared with mining, in-situ is relatively more environmentally friendly. Many technologies and innovations have been developed for in-situ. More than 100 oil sands programs or projects are conducted and under progress in Alberta (Alberta government, 2012). In spite of its dynamic economic benefits, the extraction of oil sands in Alberta faces doubts from own public and global organizations on its environmental and social impacts. III. Benefits and costs of oil sands

The exploration can bring a lot of economic and social benefits; however, it also influences the regional and global environment. 4.1. Economic growth
Once oil sands are exploration, they can be extracted to get crude oil, which is the best energy resource in the world. It can bring considerable amount of money as direct economic benefits. Meanwhile, the exploration and extraction of oil sands will accelerate the development of manufacturing industry near Alberta, even the whole Canada. 4.2.1. Direct economic benefits

From 2010 to 2011, government of Alberta gained $ 3.7 billion from the extraction of oil sands (Alberta Government, 2012). According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), oil sands are expected to create more than $450 billion for Alberta during the next 25 years, including “$350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in provincial and municipal tax revenue” (Alberta Government, 2012). Furthermore, it could also bring huge economic benefits throughout Canada. As estimated by CERI, oil sands will create $444 billion in tax revenue across...
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