Monday, March 27, 2006

Lots of Heavy Oil in Canada – Lots of Environmental Problems Too

The higher the price of oil has been thought to improve the environment as alternative fuels become increasingly used. However, see what’s happening in the Canadian province of Alberta. See Wall Street Journal (subscription required) As Prices Surge, Oil Giants Turn Sludge Into Gold March 27, 2006 by Russell Gold.

New Reserves, French firm Total Leads Push in Canada To Process Tar-Like Sand;
Toxic Lakes and More CO2, Digging It Up, Steaming It Out

Article includes:
■ “Without a doubt, we can become the next Saudi Arabia”
■ “In February, engineers from French oil giant Total SA fired up colossal drum boilers to generate steam that will be pumped to a depth of 300 feet under the frozen ground here. If all goes well, by May, the steam will marinate a tar-like mix of oil and sand until the crude begins to flow.”
■ “A Florida-size section of sandy soil beneath the boreal forest in this sparsely populated area of Northern Canada is loaded with bottom-of-the-barrel petroleum.”
■ “thanks to rising global oil prices and improved technology, most oil-industry experts count oil sands as recoverable reserves.”
■ “That recalculation has vaulted Venezuela and Canada to first and third in global reserves rankings”
■ “the world isn't about to run out of oil. Instead, it is running low on readily accessible light, sweet crude -- oil that flows like water”
■ “heavy oil has big economic and environmental drawbacks. It costs more to produce and takes more energy to turn into gasoline than traditional light oil. … releases up to three times as much greenhouse gas as producing conventional crude.”
■ “For years, environmentalists have argued that higher gasoline prices would be good for the Earth because paying more at the pump would promote conservation. Instead, higher energy prices have unleashed a bevy of heavy-oil projects that will increase emissions of carbon dioxide, suspected of causing global warming.”
■ “By 2015, Canada's Fort McMurray region, population 61,000, is expected to emit more greenhouse gases than Denmark, a country of 5.4 million people.”
■ “It costs about $25 a barrel to produce crude from Canada's oil sands, an acceptable cost when oil is trading for $60 a barrel. By comparison, it can cost as little as about $5 a barrel to produce crude in the Middle East and $15 in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.”

See prior posts:
Nuclear Power Resurgence
U.S. Hurricanes Getting Worse Due to Global Warming? No
Get Involved - Become a Friend of the Orange County Great Park
U.S. Hurricane Strikes by Decade
Global Warming “systematically exaggerated”?


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