We are pleased to answer your frequently asked questions about The Oil Sands Developers Group and the Canadian oil sands. The list of questions is listed below. For the answers, just click.

 

What is the mandate of The Oil Sands Developers Group?

The Oil Sands Developers Group is an oil sands industry association that facilitates solutions to shared development issues related to the Alberta Athabasca Oil Sands Deposit. We do this by:

  • Consolidating and sharing oil sands developers' information, perspective and advice with affected stakeholders.
  • Consulting with stakeholders, communities and governments to facilitate solutions related to development issues.
  • Collaborating with stakeholders while balancing individual and collective company responsibilities.
  • Regularly communicating accurate and credible information, analysis and forecasts, obtained through survey data, to our stakeholders.
  • Managing an inclusive committee process that is focused on analyzing issues, facilitating solutions and achieving results.

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How is The Oil Sands Developers Group involved in the oil sands?

The Oil Sands Developers Group's work involves resource developers and affected stakeholders in the oil sands. The Oil Sands Developers Group's committees deal with the issues associated with the development of the oil sands that affect the people and companies in the area. In addition, The Oil Sands Developers Group collects data and conducts surveys to forecast the development of oil sands and how this growth will impact the population in the region.

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Where can I get a list of oil sands projects and the lease map?

The List of Projects and the Oil Sands Industry Update are found on the Government of Alberta's Economic Development web site. 

An updated map of the oil sands leases in the Athabasca region may be obtained from McElhanney Surveys in Fort McMurray (not available electronically).

McElhanney Land Surveys (Alta.) Ltd.
10214 Centennial Drive
Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada T9H 1Y5
Tel. (780) 743-6328
E-mail:  [email protected]

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What are the Canadian oil sands?

Canada's oil sands are the world's largest known hydrocarbon resource. According to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), it is estimated that the area contains about 315 billion barrels of oil recoverable with current technology. 

Oil sands are deposits of bitumen, a naturally occurring viscous (like molasses) mixture of hydrocarbons. Bitumen must be upgraded into crude oil before it can be used by refineries to produce gasoline and diesel fuels.

Source: Alberta Energy

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Where are the oil sands located?

Oil sands are found in three different deposits in northern Alberta: Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake. The Athabasca deposit, located near Fort McMurray, is the largest of the three and has the most concentrated oil sands development. 

Alberta's oil sands comprise one of the world's two largest sources of bitumen; the other is in Venezuela.

Source: Alberta Energy

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How are the oil sands mined?

"About two tonnes of oil sand have to be dug up, moved and processed to make one 159-litre barrel of crude oil. More than 90 per cent of the bitumen can be recovered from the sand. The processed sand then has to be returned to the pit, and the site reclaimed.

A big part of the mining operation involves clearing trees and brush from the site and removing overburden – the topsoil, muskeg, sand, clay and gravel – that sits atop the oil sands deposit. The topsoil and muskeg are stockpiled so they can be replaced as sections of the mined-out area are reclaimed. The rest of the overburden is used to reconstruct the landscape."

Source: Canada's Oil Sands and Heavy Oil 

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How is the oil separated from the sand?

"Oil sands are naturally occurring mixtures of bitumen, water, sand and clay. If the oil sands deposits are close to the surface, bitumen can be recovered from the oil sands by open-pit mining and hot-water processing methods. Deeper deposits require in-situ methods such as steam injection through vertical or horizontal wells. (In situ means “in place” in Latin; the oil industry uses this term to indicate the bitumen is separated from the sand underground, in the geological formation where it occurs.) Surface mining is used in the Athabasca oil sands, while in-situ methods are used in all three oil sands regions."

Source: Canada's Oil Sands and Heavy Oil

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How does oil sands mining affect the environment?

New technology has significantly decreased the impact of oil sands development on the environment. 

Energy used in oil sands mining and extraction has been reduced due to new technologies that allow the use of hydrotransport in place of long conveyors.

Oil sands mining with trucks and shovels versus draglines and bucketwheels has lead to a reduction in land disturbance. This also results in land being returned to its natural state several years earlier.

Oil sands projects recycle from 70% to 90% of the water they use for separating bitumen from sand. Oil produced from the oil sands uses half the amount of water per barrel of production as conventionally produced oil.

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