oil sands

Is Canada on track to meet its climate promise? A preview of the country's upcoming international progress review

June 5, 2015 by Danielle Droitsch

Oil Sands and Climate Targets

Canada is expected to miss its 2020 Copenhagen obligations by a wide margin -- mostly due to increased tar sands expansion. As of 2014, Canada is only expected to meet half of its Copenhagen pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[read more]

America's First Oil Sands Producer and Other Natural Resources Surprises: Interview with Peter Epstein

August 16, 2014 by Jim Patrick

In 2011, CFA Peter Epstein left his senior analyst position at a $3B hedge fund and formed MockingJay Inc., a consultancy for companies in the natural resources space and an informal investment adviser to high-net-worth investors, family offices and funds.[read more]

Our Comment in Nature Calling for Oil Sands Moratorium

June 30, 2014 by Mark Jaccard

Here is the press release for our 'Nature' paper, released June 25, calling for a moratorium on oil sands expansion. This means no loss of current jobs in the oil sands. But it does mean a return to sanity from this selfish rush to accelerate global warming, ocean acidification and ecological destruction.[read more]


Why Keystone XL is a Fight Worth Fighting

February 8, 2014 by Daniel Kessler

The numbers in Robert Rapier’s recent Keystone XL post are spot on. It’s true that the 170 billion barrels found in the Athabasca tar sands reserve alone won’t cook the planet, just as it’s true that one Big Mac won’t make you fat and one cigarette won’t give you cancer.[read more]

Oil Sands and the Environment: Part II

November 25, 2013 by Robert Rapier

Oil Sands and the Environment

There are two primary ways of extracting bitumen from the oil sands. In situ production involves injecting steam into the ground to heat up the bitumen which is then pumped out of the ground. Surface mining is done when the resource is fairly close to the surface.[read more]

Future Energy Fellows post

Oil Sands, Keystone XL, and the New Politics of Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

March 7, 2013 by Mark Caine

There’s no use talking about new energy sources without assessing the social, political, and economic contexts into which they might emerge. For unless a nascent technology can command broad stakeholder assent within a given socio-political context, the technology is likely to remain marginal within it. The Canadian oil sands, which I discussed here previously, provide a case in point. And, perhaps, a harbinger of things to come.[read more]

Oil Sands Up Close

November 28, 2012 by Judi Greenwald

Oil Sands via Shutterstock

I recently got the chance to tag along with a group of journalism fellows on a tour of some oil sands production sites in Alberta, which is home to almost all of Canada’s oil sands reserves.The Canadian oil sands are one of the biggest energy stories of our time. The good news is that this is a huge North American resource. Because of...[read more]

Innovation: Making Energy Production Cleaner, More Efficient

July 1, 2012 by Mark Green

Photo by likeablerodent via Flickr

When we wrote last week about technologies to mitigate water demands during hydraulic fracturing, we knew we’d find more examples of energy innovation for the simple fact that there’s a lot of innovating going on. Here’s a little bit about two other advances in the area of fracking waste water, as well as another company’s initiative to...[read more]

Are Canada's oil sands to blame for rising atmospheric CO2?

May 22, 2012 by David Hone

In a recent New York Times opinion piece, NASA climate scientist James Hansen again puts forward his very compelling argument for strong action on limiting global CO2 emissions. He argues that Canadian oil sands is illustrative of an ongoing global trend to extract or mine increasingly challenging reserves of oil, gas and coal and bring them to market, a behaviour that could mean "game over for the climate".[read more]

On Gas Prices & the Keystone XL Pipeline

March 9, 2012 by Robert Rapier

In this week’s episode of R-Squared Energy TV, I answer more questions about gas prices, and discuss the Keystone XL pipeline and future development of Canada’s oil sands. Some of the topics discussed are: The EROEI for producing oil sands The emissions profile of shipping the oil sands to China versus refining it in the U.S. Why I...[read more]

Chu: Oil Demand, Prices Make Keystone XL “A Trade Off”

September 23, 2011 by Silvio Marcacci

The Keystone XL pipeline proposal is one of the most controversial energy issues facing America today, roiling the energy industry and bringing protests to the White House’s front step. Supporters say it would provide a secure source of energy and jobs, but opponents say oil-sands crude will threaten fragile ecosystems and worsen global warming. The Obama Administration hasn’t yet made its decision, but comments by cabinet members, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, hint at an approval.[read more]

Oil Sands Anxiety Is Overblown

August 27, 2011 by Geoffrey Styles

As I was catching up on a two-week backlog of news after my vacation, I ran across a New York Times editorial with the promising title of "Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers." Thinking that perhaps the Times might have woken up to the necessity of comparing the lifecycle emissions from oil sands to those from other crude oils, I was...[read more]

Dirty shale gas = lower gas prices = oilsands boom = double-barrelled emissions increase

April 14, 2011 by Tyler Hamilton

For a generation that’s supposed to start cleaning up its energy mix, I find it disturbing that the big money is flowing toward dirtier and dirtier sources instead. Take the case of shale gas, which is plentiful and now economical to develop in North America. Shale gas, at the point of combustion, is no cleaner or dirtier than...[read more]

What's the Alternative to Oil Sands?

April 13, 2011 by Geoffrey Styles

I can recall when technologies like oil sands and coal gasification were commonly referred to as alternative energy, with the same high-tech aura now attached to solar power and advanced biofuels. Much has changed since then, not least our perspective on climate change and the greenhouse gases that contribute to it. It's no longer...[read more]

Sustainability: The Crux of the Matter with Alberta's Oil Sands

December 17, 2010 by Nathanael Baker

The oil industry, Alberta's provincial government, and the Canadian federal government are all breathing huge sighs of relief with the release of the Royal Society of Canada's report [pdf] on the Alberta oil sands. The cause for relief comes from the fact that a comprehensive study about the Alberta oil sands conducted by independent...[read more]