Oil Is A Critical Piece Of Our Energy Infrastructure

1323 Words Apr 25th, 2015 6 Pages
Crude oil is a critical piece of our energy infrastructure. In recent years, there has been increasing demand on crude oil and a large growth in unconventional oil sources to serve our energy requirements such as the bitumen oil sands deposits in Northern Alberta, Canada. Unlike traditional oil extraction, in the oil sands hot water or steam [1] is required to remove oil from the high viscous bitumen deposits. This extraction process consumes a large volume of water with major oil producers consuming on an average 3.1 barrels of water for the production of 1 barrel of oil with 15-20% coming from fresh water bodies [2-4].
The current and future environmental impact of the oil sands extraction process is potentially huge in Canada since Canada has the world’s second largest oil reserves with an estimated 179.2 billion barrels of oil and 95% is contained in bitumen deposits. Currently, 2% of the countries annual fresh water resources (604 million m3, equivalent to the needs of a city of 3 million people) [5], primarily from Athabasca River, [6] are assigned to mining industry. It is expected that this water usage will increase given the estimated production for the next 10 years [7].
Handling the water remaining after the extraction process, commonly referred to as oil sands process-affected water (OSPW), is one of the main environmental challenges of the oil sands. OSPW contains toxic contaminates such as organics, naphthenic acids, toluene, bitumen, alkaline, clay,…
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