The Alberta Tar Sands: Factors Affecting Extraction and Production of Fossil Fuels

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Alberta Tar Sands Figure 1 - Tar Sands Ariel (Goldenberg) Executive Summary The Alberta Tar Sands have been a contentious issue in recent years. Although the tar sands is estimated to be one of the Earth's biggest reserves of fossil fuels, the extraction of these resources is known to cause a variety of social and ecological problems. The extraction process itself is inefficient and the pipeline that has been proposed is subject to many environmental risks. Portions of the pipeline have already been approved and the construction of the pipeline is already begun in some areas. This paper will look at some of the factors associated with tar sands extraction and production of fossil fuels. Introduction Bituminous sand, commonly referred to as simply tar sands or oil sands, is an unconventional type of petroleum deposit. It is generally a mixture of some portion of oil, sand, clay, water, and even asphalt. The mixture creates a black viscous substance in which can be refined an oil can be extracted from. The oil in this form is described as a thick semi-solid substance that almost honey-like in texture. There are a variety of ways in which the extraction of this resource can be conducted. However, all of these extraction techniques are more energy and water intensive than traditional methods of oil extraction and production. Generally, tar sands are extracted by one of two processes. The oil can be extracted with through strip mining or a process referred to

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