answer from 2 weeks ago:
The Alberta Tar Sands are rich with oil- 280-300 billion barrels- or as much as Saudi Arabia. The sludge is steamed up below ground, then washed industrially to separate out the oil from the sand. Its an extremely energy intensive process that released more CO2 than the amount of Carbon that is retrieved from the stuff. Nations are drooling over these type of oil resources, but in reality the oil-sand sludge is far from ideal as an energy source. Canada is struggling to keep its CO2 emissions within limit because of the extraction methods in the Alberta Tar Sands. It seems that a desperate dependence on oil is the only motive for the process, which is costing more in pollution and resources than it is providing for us.
Tar sands, also known as oil sands or bituminous sands, are a mixture of sandy particles and a tarry, heavy-oil-like substance known as bitumen that can be used to extract and produce synthetic fuels similar to those produced from crude oil. The Canadian province of Alberta contains the world’s largest known deposits of bituminous sands and is currently the largest source of products produced from them.
From a geologic standpoint, tar sands differ from crude oil in that they have been “overcooked,” or decomposed by geological and biological processes to the point that the shorter hydrocarbons common in oilfields are replaced with long-chain hydrocarbons that have a thick and sticky consistency. As a result of the chemical differences between oil sands and conventional oil, additional refining steps are required to extract usable hydrocarbons for refining, leading to the concerns widely held by environmentalists over the climate and air and water quality impacts of tapping into this energy source. A number of First Nations groups in Alberta along the Athabasca River watershed have also expressed concerns over the impacts of tar sands operations on their largely fishing-based livelihood (see citation).
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