Canadian Tar Sands

Want to know more about Canadian tar sands? Read on to discover the various resources for tar sands in Canada and methods of oil extraction…

Canadian Tar sand is also known as oil sand and is a mixture of a heavy and viscous black colored oil called bitumen, clay, sand and water. Tar sand is mined and processed to get the oil-rich bitumen which is later processed into oil. This viscous oil cannot be extracted from the ground on its own and thus tar sand deposits are mined through open pit or strip mining tactics to extract the bitumen.

The oil generated from Canadian tar sand is similar to the regular natural oil but requires a more complex extraction procedure. The main stages of recovering oil from Canadian tar sands is the extraction and then separation of the bitumen from the clay, water and sand mixture.

Further, before the bitumen can be refined anymore it requires upgrading and dilution with a lighter form of hydrocarbons in order to make it more fluid and flow better through the pipelines.

Tar Sand Resources

A large quantity of the oil reserves in the world is available in the form of tar sand and most of it is not extractable. Approximately 2 trillion or more barrels of oil are available in this form. The largest resources of tar sands are found in Alberta, Canada followed by Venezuela. Other countries include United States which has a concentration in Eastern Utah in public lands.

The Canadian Tar Sand Industry

Canada has a large-scale industry based around the extraction of bitumen from Canadian tar sands. This industry is centered around the region of Alberta, Canada where approximately 1,000,000 barrels of Canadian tar sand oil is extracted and produced on a daily basis.
In fact it is an interesting point that approximately 40% of the oil production from Canada is that of tar sands and output is on the increase. Canada is exporting approximately 20% of its crude oil into the US and a large proportion of this comes from Canadian tar sand.
A very important point to differentiate American and Canadian tar sands is the fact that the United States sands are hydrocarbon wetted whereas the Canadian bitumen is water wetted.

Canadian Tar Sand Extraction and Processing

The main machinery utilized for this purpose are electric and hydraulic shovels to dig up the sand and place it in the huge trucks that can carry up to 320 tons of Canadian tar sands in each truck.

An extraction plant is utilized to separate the bitumen from the water, sand and minerals by using a hot water process and the slurry is piped into separation cells of the extraction plant and agitated.

This combination of hot water and agitating the slurry results in separating the bitumen from the other particles because tiny air bubbles attached to the bitumen droplets and it floats to the top of the separation container and the bitumen is skimmed off. This can later be refined further to remove impurities and then transformed into crude oil.

Roughly around 2 tons of Canadian tar sand can be converted into one barrel of oil. Interestingly enough the other materials like sand and minerals are returned to the mine and it is reclaimed.

Unfortunately there is a great environmental impact of this process which means the disturbance of mined land, destruction of the habitat of wildlife and alteration of the water and air quality along with global warming.

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