If The Oil Sands Are Canadian, Why Do Americans Care?

The American Petroleum Institute Launches Oil Sands Campaign Highlighting Role Of Oil Sands In The U.S. Economy

Our neighbours to the south understand the importance of Canada’s oil sands and the value it adds to their economic and energy security. This is the reason the American Petroleum Institute (API), launched an oil sands campaign highlighting the role of the industry in North America’s energy security, economic growth and American jobs.

API represents more than 400 oil and natural gas companies and since 2000, has invested nearly $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives, while reducing the industry’s environmental footprint. Now, they are backing the oil sands as an important part of America’s energy supply.

“API is expanding its education outreach on the importance of oil sands to the energy mix critical to America’s economic future,” said Cindy Schild, API’s refining issues manager. “Canada’s reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s and continuing to utilize this vast natural resource has enormous job creating potential and economic importance for America.” 

“Most Americans don’t realize that Canada is our number one source of imported oil and that makes it difficult to appreciate the benefits oil sands are already providing to U.S. consumers and workers,” she said.

Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S., an estimated two million barrels flow over the U.S. border every day, and about half of it is derived from the oil sands.

But the benefits don’t stop with energy security. Oil sands demand for American companies’ goods and services currently contributes to thousands of jobs. Over the next five years, oil sands production could create an estimated 343,000 new jobs in the U.S.

Companies like Caterpillar in Peoria and Bucyrus Erie in Milwaukee are familiar names to those working in the Athabasca region, but there are hundreds of vendors with thousands of employees who are equally important to oil sands operations – and who are also benefitting from the synergistic relationship that has developed.

API’s campaign will help ensure that Americans are aware of the benefits the oil sands production brings – especially in this time of economic uncertainty. The kickoff of the campaign began in January.

More information on oil sands is available at www.oilsandsdevelopers.ca or visit the American Petroleum Institute for more details on how the oil sands are benefitting the United States.

Did you know...

Canada’s oil reserves are second in the world behind Saudi Arabia

Of 179 billion barrels of Canada’s oil reserves, the oil sands represent 97 per cent

For each permanent oil sands-related job, nine additional direct, indirect and induced jobs are created in Canada.

Currently 240,000 jobs in Canada are directly or indirectly linked to the oil sands.

Between 2000 and 2020, oil sands development has the potential to generate at least $123 billion in royalty and tax revenues for Canada’s federal and provincial governments.

The oil sands currently account for only 4.6 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is less than 0.1 per cent of total global emissions.

Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate industrial greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Producers have made great strides in reducing the amount of emissions per barrel of bitumen extracted from the oil sands. The equivalent of 2.6 million tonnes of reductions have been made – the same as taking more than 550,000 cars off the road.

The province of Alberta has committed $4 billion toward climate change initiatives, including $2 billion for public transit and $2 billion for carbon capture and storage (CCS). This is the largest CCS investment in the world.

Air quality around oil sands operations is better than all North American cities reviewed by the Alberta Clean Air Strategic Alliance.

Alberta air quality standards are the most stringent in Canada.

Air quality in Fort McMurray is monitored around the clock. Results are available at the WBEA site.

Air quality has been extensively modeled and demonstrated to remain within Alberta’s strict air quality guidelines even with all projected oil sands development in place.

Oil sands are located below the surface of 140,200 square kilometres of land, 4.5 per cent of Canada’s total boreal forest.

Mineable oil sands only exist under 0.1 per cent of Canada’s total boreal forest.

While disturbance is occurring daily, in more than 40 years oil sands mining has disturbed about one hundredth of one per cent of the Canadian boreal forest – some 500 square kilometres.

Since 2001, coordinated efforts between government and industry through Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) activities have reduced land surface disturbance in the region by 20 per cent.

As required by law, and included in all project approvals, reclamation work is ongoing and continuous in the oil sands. All lands disturbed by oil sands will be reclaimed.

Mining is only an option for oil sands that sit less than 75 metres under the surface.

More than 80 per cent of the oil sands will be developed using in-situ technologies.

In-situ projects resemble conventional oil development and do not require tailings ponds, or mine pits.

In-situ operations create linear disturbance of the surface for wellheads. But new technology and processes, including low-impact seismic and directional drilling, are reducing that footprint.

In Alberta, Alberta Environment regulates oil and gas industry water use under the Water Act. Oil and gas companies are subject to the same conditions for use as any other licensed water user in Alberta.

Currently, the oil sands industry draws less than half the water allocation allowed by Alberta Environment from the Athabasca River.

Water allocations are strictly controlled during low flow periods.

More than 80 per cent of water drawn by industry from the Athabasca is recycled.

Non-potable water which is unsuitable for drinking, livestock or irrigation use is used wherever possible for in-situ production.

Alberta Environment prohibits the release of any water to the Athabasca River that does not meet water quality requirements.

RAMP, a multi-stakeholder body, conducts annual monitoring of the river’s fish species, fish habitat and water quality. The monitoring has not detected significant changes to the Athabasca River. www.ramp-alberta.org

Bitumen from exposed oil sands along the river banks has seeped naturally into the Athabasca River as it cut its way through the landscape.

Tailings contain the water, residual bitumen, sand and clay that is left over when the bitumen is separated from the sand.

In the ponds, the solids separate from the water so the water may be recycled into the process again. Of the total water used by oil sands mines, 80 per cent is recycled.

During and after mining, the tailings ponds are reclaimed. No tailings water is released to the Athabasca River or any other watercourse.

The first tailings ponds will be reclaimed in 2010.

80 per cent of the oil sands resource will be developed using in-situ technology which does not require tailings ponds.

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