Nigeria Of The North: Oil Sands Frenzy Threatens Alberta Environment

Posted on Sunday, February 05 at 13:27 by BC Mary
A report by conservation biologist Brian Horejsi of Western Wildlife Environments Consulting covers the magnitude of habitat fragmentation currently in Alberta from oil and gas development: more than 225,000 wells have been drilled; one-million miles of seismic road access and more than 300,000 miles of pipeline right-of-way have been cut; and 450,000 miles of all-weather road access have been built. None of this construction is or was subject to environmental assessment. Reserves at or near the surface are recovered through large-scale strip-mining. Huge mounds of oil sand are excavated and moved by trucks weighing 240 tons and standing three stories high. Two tons of sand produce one barrel of oil. Environmentalists are, not surprisingly, aghast at the magnitude of this fast growing and earth-despoiling industry. “Tar sands oil is to conventional oil what crack cocaine is to ordinary cocaine powder,” says Elizabeth May, executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. “It’s more harm to global climate through increased greenhouse gas emissions, more destruction of boreal forests, more toxic tailings and more air and water pollution.” [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 7, 2006]


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  1. Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:40 pm
    little ownership, no control, few taxes and few royalties--thanks government! We'll be poor and freezing in the dark but at least the absurdity of this thing is becoming a little more well known--but not much.<br />
    <br />
    The CANDU people want the government to build a nuclear plant to create the power necessary to extract the oil....makes sense to save natural gas but of course taxpayers would pay while oil companies profit...the little guy always pays one way or another.<br />
    <br />
    <a href=""></a><br />
    <p>---<br>"A Liberal is someone who refuses to take his own side in a fight". <br />
    <br />
    -Robert Frost

  2. Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:49 am
    >>makes sense to save natural gas<<

    By not using the "revenue maker" and using a source that is the biggest pollution known to mankind. NO ONE has yet come up with a way to rid the world of nuclear waste. One can see them burying the stuff in the vast empty pit once known as the oil sands. (Or sell to the Americans for their ammunition)

  3. Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:56 am
    And Minnesota doesn't want it....<br />
    <br />
    ENERGY: Minnesota oil pipeline plan plows into resistance300-mile long system would move 165,000 barrels of Canadian crude to refineries, but does the state really need it?<br />
    <br />
    (QUIP)<br />
    <br />
    The pipeline would do more than just increase the flow of crude, however. It would expand the North American market for bitumen or oil sands, heavy gooey stuff with the consistency of molasses. High prices have prompted the oil industry to boost production of Canada's vast oil sands resources (the combination of traditional crude and bitumen gives the country reserves that rank second only to Saudi Arabia).<br />
    That's troubling to the environmental community because extracting bitumen is a far different and arguably more damaging process than traditional oil drilling.<br />
    Sometimes the sand is removed by strip mining, then mixed with hot water to release the oil. But an estimated 80 percent of Canada's oil sands will be extracted by heating the ground itself to loosen the oil.<br />
    Environmentalists cringe at the process because it consumes vast amounts of natural gas and produces large quantities of greenhouse gases, among other things.<br />
    The process also is less efficient and the oil that ends up in Minnesota may not meet the Pawlenty administration's three-part energy mantra of reliable, low-cost and environmentally superior energy. Though Canada's stable and friendly relationship with the United States increases reliability, oil-sand crude often is no cheaper than high grades of oil such as West Texas Intermediate. And then there's the environmental question.<br />
    "It's less environmentally friendly than garden-variety oil," said Michael Noble, executive director of St. Paul-based Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy.<br />
    "The fact that it's now economic to use these expensive, hard-to-get, energy-intensive and more polluting oil sources, that should be an early warning sign."<br />
    Full Article:<br />
    <a href=""></a><br />
    <p>---<br>These days, if you are not confused, you are not thinking clearly. Mrs. Irene Peters

  4. by ouhite
    Mon Feb 06, 2006 5:32 am
    Is it mainly our own companies doing the extracting and stuff? Or is it US companies? Anyone know? I'd feel better if it was at least the former.

  5. by RPW
    Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:50 pm
    <blockquote> NO ONE has yet come up with a way to rid the world of nuclear waste </blockquote> and no one much cares either. People (in authority) are routinely talking about nuclear energy when the oil runs out. Iran's real reason for developing nuclear energy is not for bombs (that's mostly show). But Iran recognizes that oil is much more valuable to sell than to use itself. The world is not yet ready to embrace alternative energy sources, mainly 'cause it's long term, and the shareholder's don't want to wait that long.......<p>---<br>RickW

  6. Mon Feb 06, 2006 4:55 pm
    It's mostly US companies. Suncor is mostly Canadian, but they are a small player when compared to Syncrude. Syncrude is a conglomeration of companies, about 10% owned by Petro-Canada.

    Other players are Shell, BP, Japan Oil, Petro-Can (they have a test site, as well as partnership in Syncrude), Coca-Cola (!!), Gibsons Petrolium . . . and more coming onstream in the next 5 years.

    "I think it's important to always carry enough technology to restart civilization, should it be necessary." Mark Tilden

  7. Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:21 am
    <p>boflaade,</p> <blockquote>NO ONE has yet come up with a way to rid the world of nuclear waste.</blockquote> <p>well, someone <i>has</i> come up with a way, but sending up a rocket that’s loaded with radioactive materials has its own set of risks …</p><p>---<br>Shatter your ideals upon the rock of Truth.<br />
    <br />
    — The Divine Symphony, by Inayat Khan<br />

  8. Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:50 am
    >>sending up a rocket that’s loaded with radioactive materials has its own set of risks<<
    Space contamination has not yet been recognized as the solution. One would consider that more then a risk but a apocalypse.

  9. by natty
    Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:45 am
    THere may be more than 5 coming on board, right now CNRL (Canadian Natural Resources)who acquired the site from BP has almost their own community on the go, there's Flint, as for Shell, they are only a partner in the ALbian Oil sands project the other is Chevron and Western Oil. THen you have the Opti-Nexen or the long lake project, Imperial OIl and EXxon have teamed up for their own site, Deer Creek is another, yet still you have Husky and SynEnCo on top of the ones you have listed Dr. Caleb. ALl of these will be in some form of production by 2009-2010.
    As for the environment, no it is not great, but something has to be said about the reclamation projects of the mines that I have seen and worked in. Buffalo roaming? Well actually wood bison and they are doing quite well, a number of us here were quite apprehensive about this, yeah another pr scheme of the plants,however, they are doing well and plants, trees, the species that all existed on the first mine site have all been reintroduced and heavily monitored.
    You know there are a couple of items here, one no matter the impact the companies are going to develop, the money is there to be made. Instead of oh no pollution does anyone have constructive means of limiting pollutants? How about collaborting ? What happened in BC with regards to the protected coastal region and the forest companies is a model to the rest of industries and those of us concerned with the environment, there can be opportunities to work together if you are willing.
    MY beef with the development of oilsands by foreign owned companies is the "Security and Prosperity Partnership". Prosperity for the Americans is about it, there is nothing in place for us Canadians to protect the resources we so willingly give up to anyone. When will we learn to protect our own?

  10. by ouhite
    Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:10 am
    thats some mean research.. I mean in the amount of details you know.

  11. Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:45 pm
    Welcome. But it's experience. I used to work in most of those places.

    "I think it's important to always carry enough technology to restart civilization, should it be necessary." Mark Tilden

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