Oil sands are playing an important role in the generation of energy as conventional sources of crude oil are slowly being depleted. The bitumen that is found in oil sands play a large role in offsetting the decline of energy production and the Canadian oil sands are one of the largest oil reserves in the world. The Alberta oil sands have created thousands of jobs and have boosted the economy and it is believed that direct employment will increase over the coming years, offering great economic benefits and increased production.
Oil Sands Production and Consumption
Alberta is a top energy producer in Canada and the oil sands play a large role in that production as well as offering many economic benefits. In 2010, the oil sands produced 1.6 million barrels of oil per day and in 2016, the oil sands reserves reached an amazing 165.4 billion barrels. With 2.5 million barrels of crude bitumen being produced per day, this industry has seen substantial growth over the years.
In terms of production, there are no causes for concern in regards to resources. The Alberta oil sands are home to around 1.8 trillion barrels of oil and in 2017, there were five oil sands mining operations in Alberta alone. Unfortunately, the Alberta oil sands energy consumption is a major issue. Based on facts, the industry uses almost as much energy as it produces. Much natural gas is being used to make the oil sands fluid enough for use, and this comes at a high cost. Oil sands are in a league of their own when it comes to an EROI, energy returned on investment. In fact, the EORI is just 5:1, indicating that for every 5 units of energy generated, the process uses 1 unit of natural gas.
Economic Benefits of Oil Sands
The oil and natural gas industry within Canada is one of the largest industries in the country and oil sands have added over $23 billion to the economy. This industry contributes by paying corporate taxes, property taxes, royalties and more and the revenue generated helps with infrastructure, social services and many other essential programs. In 2011, it was reported that 1 in every 14 people residing in Alberta was directly employed by the gas and oil mining industry, greatly benefitting the economy.
While more jobs are being created and revenue is increasing, there are some negative economic impacts as well. There will likely be rising prices on natural gas that will have an impact on homeowners in Alberta. The oil sands industry is primarily fueled by natural gas and with the high volume of Alberta oil sands energy consumption, rising prices are in the near future.
Environmental Impacts of Alberta Oil Sands
In addition to the high Alberta oil sands energy consumption, there are also environmental impacts that are quite negative. The Alberta oil sands are one of the largest sources of harmful air pollutants which can lead to increased cases of respiratory issues such as asthma. It can also be the cause of lung cancer and some cardiovascular diseases.
One of the main environmental impacts is the increase in water consumption. This type of energy production required a large amount of water, 2 to 5 barrels per each barrel of oil. Facts show that the oil sands in Alberts use more water per year than the city of Calgary. Another issue is Climate Change and t eh Greenhouse Gases that are released during production.