The “mining” of Canada oil sands, as well as US oil sands offers significant job opportunities. The Alberta Oil Sands are described by the Canadians as deposits of a semi-solid, thick and sticky crude oil that must be heated so it will flow more easily. Otherwise, it is very thick, somewhat like molasses, when it is cold. It’s similar to what is called extra heavy oil in Venezuela where the oil there flows better due to the heat.
Right now, Canada is the only country that has a large-scale operation in collecting and refining oil from the oil sands. They are leading the way in the technology that will be used by other countries such as Russia, Venezuela, the Republic of the Congo, Tsimiroro (Madagascar) to produce oil from their oil sands as well. Much to the dismay of Opec.
Oil sands production now amounts to about half of the oil that the Canadians produce. No other place has as large an operation. In 2006 alone they produced 1.25 million barrels a day from 81 different oil sands projects. These are located in three areas in Alberta: Athabasca-Wabiskaw, Peace River, and Cold Lake. These areas are thought to have 85 percent of the bitumen deposits on the entire planet, making it a huge opportunity for oil job seekers and investors, alike.
Oil Sands in the U.S.
The Bakken Shale Fields or North Dakota Shale are located in the Williston Basin that stretches from Saskatchewan, Canada in the north, through roughly the middle of North Dakota and across the northeastern corner of Montana. The oil reserves in this area could be the biggest deposit in the US, next to that found in Alaska. With over 4000 active wells being worked in North Dakota, property owners are being paid to sell their mineral rights to the oil companies.
Other available oil sands in the U.S. are located mostly in eastern Utah, but there is not a significant amount of crude oil being produced commercially at this time. However, it is thought that there could be 32 billion barrels of oil from oil sands in Utah. The U.S. oil sands are considered “hydrocarbon wet” rather than “water wet” as the ones in Canada are. This means a different procurement process has to be used and that is still largely under development.
However, because of the arid climate in Utah, there could be a problem with the heavily water-dependant process currently used. By law the US government can not buy oil that uses processes generating emissions of greenhouse gases greater than traditionally produced petroleum, and that includes crude oil from oil sands.
It is estimated that the Bakken shale formations in Canada, North Dakota and Montana could hold nearly four billion barrels of oil. Fort McMurray jobs information here.
All in all, oils sand fields could be the way of the future in our relentless search for the precious commodity the world depends on – OIL.