Whats going on with oil sands in Canada?

15 years ago they were saying it was the next big thing, that they had enough oil to supply the world for the next 200 years.

What happened since then, I think the problem back then was that they did not have the technology to easily separate the oil from the sand, has the technology improved since then or has it stalled?

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  • 1 month ago

    I think the biggest reason is one of simple economics.  Oil prices have not risen tot he extent that was once anticipated, which reduces the profitability of any extraction operations.  Also, there have been safety and environmental concerns regarding transport of the crude product from the oil sands sites (train wrecks and pipeline issues), and this has had both economic and political repercussions.

    Basically, fracking has allowed the US to rejuvenate large volumes of formerly unprofitable in-ground and often supposedly depleted oil deposits, and in so doing, produced large amounts of oil at relatively low costs, much lower than the oil sands operations can meet.  So, the short to medium term economic outlook for oil from the oil sands deposits is bleak.

    They will be back once prices make it worth the investment.

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  • AndyF
    Lv 5
    1 month ago

    They are trying to make money out of a dirty obsolete form of energy. Indigenous groups don't want pipelines fouling their lands. Much oil is moved by train and they are dangerous. The thick oil has to be cut with 1/3 naptha to make it flow into rail cars which makes them very likely to burn in an accident. Most of the product goes to oversea customers and prices are to low for companies to make a profit. Alberta recently made fools of themselves buying up oil train cars and demanding the central govt. give their trains top priority. Now they have given that demand up. Saskatchewan recently had two flaming derailments in under two months. 

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  • 1 month ago

    The problem is that the price of oil is to low to make it economically feasible.   You need oil to be at $100 us/barrel to make the economics work out.  As you know since the fracking started, the price of oil has dropped to a point where its too expensive to extract the oil from the sands.  Also the type of oil is very heavy, so only a few places can process it.  fracking is bringing out light sweet crude locally, so refineries converted in order to use it.  So the capacity for heavy crude is almost gone, which has lowered the demand further depressing prices.  

    Also look at the future.  The future is not in crude, its with electric vehicles and gas driven power plants.  In Canada, the future is with Hydro and nuclear which is needed to reduce carbon emissions to the agreed level in the Paris accord.   So there are so many things that make the future of Tar sands not economically feasible.    

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  • 1 month ago

    The technology was available back then. However, the cost of separating the oil from the sand was comparatively high. It still is.

    Since then, they've found other oil fields, which has kept the price of "regular" oil lower than it could have been. So, it's still not economical to extract the oil from the sand to tap into those reserves as much as could have been done. 

    So, the oil sand industry is still going, but not as widely as it was touted.

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  • 1 month ago

    Global Warming conspiracy theorists and an idiot Prime Minister combined to detroy that progress

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