As we move into an era where peak oil production is behind us, we need to focus our efforts on developing new energy resources. We can’t afford to stand by and allow dirtier, more expensive, and less efficient tar sand oil become the energy that drives our nation. What is tar sand oil?
Tar sand oil is harvested in Alberta, Canada. Thousands of acres of pristine, ancient forest are clear cut (see picture below) so refineries have access to the soil. The soil, called tar sand, contains a small amount of oil that can be harvested through chemical processes. Comparing input energy (the energy required to set up refineries, transport crews and supplies, and power the chemical reactions) versus the energy yield, tar sand oil production is one of the least efficient methods of harvesting oil. In fact, oil companies have only started harvesting tar sands quite recently, as we run out of options to satiate our oil addiction.
In production, tar sand oil is inefficient; in transportation, it is very dangerous. Continue reading