Want to learn more about the Canadian Oil Sands of Saskatchewan? Read on for facts and info on the prospects of oil extraction in Saskatchewan, Canada…
When a dense, viscous form of petroleum called bitumen mixes with water and sand or clay, the result is called a tar sand or oil sand. The extraction and processing of this petroleum product has been traditionally very expensive. Oil companies in the past have exclusively focused on oil wells where the crude oil flows naturally from the ground (or from under the seabed as the case maybe). However, the scarcity of new oil reserves combined with improvements in the processes needed to extract synthetic oil from the bitumen has made the tar sands very attractive to oil companies.
Oil Sand Reserves in Canada – The Largest in The World
The biggest reserves of oil in tar sands are in Canada and Venezuela. The Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada are probably the largest such reserve of oil with an estimated total of nearly two trillion barrels of oil. This is as much as the known conventional oil reserves of the whole world and at least a tenth of these reserves can easily and profitably be extracted with current technology.
Canada exports as much oil as it consumes itself. Half of Canadian oil production is from bituminous products extracted from eighty oil sands across the country. This amounts to a whopping one-and-a-quarter million barrels of petroleum every day. As technology progresses, more oil may be profitably extracted in the future.
Oil Sands and Prospects in Saskatchewan
Other important oil sand deposits are in the Peace River area in northwestern Alberta and the Cold Lake deposit in northeastern Alberta that stretches into Saskatchewan. This last deposit is not as massive as the others but it is extremely important because the freer-flowing oils can be more easily extracted by conventional means.
When oil prices soared in the early 2000s interest was renewed in funding new refineries and even in finding fresh deposits of oil sands. As much as one hundred billion dollars were invested by oil companies in these efforts. The later stabilization of oil prices and increase in manufacturing costs due to shortages in labor and materials plus the repeal of tax concessions has cooled the mood a little. However, the oil sands are still considered the way forward in maintaining Canadian self-sufficiency and economic vitality.
Some companies are working in Saskatchewan to the east of the Athabasca reserves and have been successful in finding good reserves in this area. As mentioned before, part of the economically profitable Cold Lakes reserves fall inside Saskatchewan borders as well. Furthermore, Clearwater River Valley in the north of the province was shown to have favorable amounts of oil sand deposits in the 1970s.
The prospects for oil extraction in Saskatchewan look bright and though it might not have the natural reserves of Alberta, companies are focusing on exploration and mining in the region albeit a little belatedly.