Everything You Didn’t Want To Know About Canadian Tar Sand Oil

Extracting oil from tar sands

Processing plant extracting oil from tar sands.

How do you extract oil from sand? Simply put, you pick up and crush 50,000+ sq miles of earth, heat the heck out of it, and then sprinkle in some chemicals to separate out the oil from the sand and water. That is currently how oil is extracted from the tar sands and there’s enough of it in Calgary’s Athabasca oil sands to make Canada the world’s 2nd largest producer of oil. As oil goes, tar sand oil is not that pretty and it costs 3 times as much to produce as oil from a drilled well. The environmental land damage from this type of surface mining is not calculated in the cost but alone, the amount of resources needed to separate the oil from sand makes tar sand oil the world’s most expensive.

I’d mostly stayed away from the tar sands and Keystone XL pipeline story until I read a great article by Carl Pope in The Huffington Post. Mr. Pope is the former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and if you get a chance, read “The Myths Behind the Tar Sands Stampede.”

Related article: Pollutants from Tar Sands Sites Comparable to Mid-Sized City

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