Jon Lowenstein | Canada | In the Oil Sands PORTFOLIO

Posted by admin | Consequences by NOOR Project,Jon Lowenstein,Videos | Monday 30 November 2009 4:23 pm

The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, represent the second largest source of crude oil in the world, behind Saudi Arabia. Beneath an area the size of Greece are an estimated 170.4 billion barrels of crude oil. Unlike conventional crude oil, which is pumped from deep within the earth, oil sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen, found near the surface.

Mining and refining the oil sands is an expensive process, but with the rise in the price per barrel of oil, it has become profitable?very profitable indeed. The small town of Fort McMurray, known to its residents as Fort McMoney, has exploded with the influx of oil patch workers from around the globe, and Canada’s coffers have swelled with billions in royalties. But there is a downside. Oil sand mining degrades the landscape, pollutes the water and with its associated refining industries accounts for 5 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

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Jon Lowenstein | Canada | In the Oil Sands – One of the Largest Producers of Petroleum in the World

Posted by admin | Consequences by NOOR Project,Jon Lowenstein | Monday 9 November 2009 4:19 am

©Jon Lowenstein_Canada_Oil Sands_Web

©2009 Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

The Oil Sands or Tar Sands region in Alberta, Canada is now one of the largest producers of petroleum in the world. The Athabasca Oil Sands (also known colloquially as the Athabasca Tar Sands although there is no actual tar) are large deposits of bitumen, or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada – roughly centered around the boomtown of Fort McMurray. These oil sands, hosted in the McMurray Formation, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water. The Athabasca deposit is the largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River and Cold Lake deposits. Together, these oil sand deposits lie under 141,000 square kilometres (54,000 sq mi) of sparsely populated boreal forest and muskeg (peat bogs) and contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world’s total proven reserves of conventional petroleum.

With modern unconventional oil production technology, at least 10% of these deposits, or about 170 billion barrels were considered to be economically recoverable at 2006 prices, making Canada’s total oil reserves the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia’s. The Athabasca deposit is the only large oil sands reservoir in the world which is suitable for large-scale surface mining, although most of it can only be produced using more recently developed in-situ technology.

Steve Gaudet is Syncrude’s manager of environmental services and land reclamation. The company hails their reclamation effort as groundbreaking and claim that they can bring the impacted area back to close to the natural habitat. Periodically Gaudet and the Syncrude public relations offer tours of their reclamation efforts and their operations. In the background is a tailings pond and the plume of steam and smoke from the Syncrude Upgrader that processes and separates the sand from the oil. The tailings ponds are quite toxic and last year in one incident more than 1500 ducks that landed on the oily water died. Tailings ponds hold a mix of clay, water, sand, hydrocarbons and heavy metals that is left over after water washes oil out of sand in the oil sands extraction process.

As proof of the success of the reclamation effort they have a herd of 300 Wood Bison that live on reclaimed land. They also say they have spent 100 million Canadian dollars on land reclamation since 2003. In comparison to the 18 billion annual operating budget of the company the amount spent on land reclamation seems small to the observer.

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Jon Lowenstein | Canada | In the Oil Sands

Posted by admin | Consequences by NOOR Project,Jon Lowenstein | Friday 30 October 2009 12:58 am

 Jon Lowenstein | Canada | In the Oil Sands

©2009 Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

In the Oil Sands

The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, represent the second largest source of crude oil in the world, behind Saudia Arabia. Beneath an area the size of the Montana are an estimated 170.4 billion barrels of crude oil. Unlike conventional crude oil, which is pumped from deep within the earth, oil sands are a mixture of sand, clay, water and bitumen, found near the surface. Mining and refining the oil sands is an expensive process, but with the rise in the price per barrel of oil, it has become profitable—very profitable. The small town of Fort McMurray, known to its residents as Fort McMoney, has exploded with the influx of oil patch workers from around the globe, and Canada’s coffers have swelled with billions in royalties. But there is a downside. Oil sand mining degrades the landscape, pollutes the water and with its associated refining industries accounts for 5 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

About Jon Lowenstein:

e8c94cc5b4USA, 1970 – Over the last 10 years, Jon has specialized in long-term, in-depth documentary photographic projects which question the status quo. In 2000 he started his ongoing project about Mexican Immigration to the United States. Jon has been documenting the South Side Chicago community for the past eight years and his recent work includes stories from Central America and South Africa. Jon was recently named a 2008 Alicia Patterson Fellow and garnered the 2007 Getty Award for Editorial Images. Jon resides in Chicago.

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