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Posts tagged Fort McMurray

Destruction of Boreal Forest Near Athabasca Oil Sands, Canada – September 8th, 2010

56.7N 111.3W

September 8th, 2010 Category: Deforestation, Environmental Disasters, Image of the day, Rivers

Canada - August 27th, 2010

Destruction of Boreal Forest © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Destruction of Boreal Forest

Vast Areas of Cleared Forest © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Vast Areas of Cleared Forest

On the right side of this orthorectified image of eastern Alberta, Canada, the Athabasca River can be seen running vertically past the Athabasca Oil Sands, near Fort McMurray.

Oil sands, also known as tar sands, are large deposits of bitumen – extremely heavy, semi-solid crude oil that is mixed with silica sand, clay minerals and water. The largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world is found here in the Athabasca deposit.

The UK Guardian Newspaper and Greenpeace recently reported that Canada’s boreal forest – a continuous belt of coniferous trees separating the tundra to the north and temperate rainforest and deciduous woodlands to the south – is being flattened and destroyed in order to extract oil from the tar sands.

The striking photographs show how Canada’s magnificent boreal forest is being destroyed by the rush to extract oil from the tar sands just below the surface. The first two photographs show how large areas of forest have been cleared in order to extract the oil.

The third photograph shows the oily surface of the Mildred Lake tailings pond adjacent to the Syncrude upgrader north of Fort McMurray. The final one shows clumps of trees that have become isolated amid the destruction of the landscape around them.

Oily Surface of Mildred Lake © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Oily Surface of Mildred Lake

Isolated Clumps of Trees © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

Isolated Clumps of Trees

Athabasca Oil Sands, Canada

56.7N 111.4W

June 9th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Canada - June 2nd, 2009

Canada - June 2nd, 2009

The Athabasca Oil Sands are large deposits of bitumen, or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada – roughly centered around the boomtown of Fort McMurray.

These oil sands, hosted in the McMurray Formation, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen (a semi-solid form of crude oil), silica sand, clay minerals, and water.

The Athabasca deposit (also known colloquially as the Athabasca Tar Sands although there is no actual tar) is the largest reservoir of crude bitumen in the world. It is also the largest of three major oil sand deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River and Cold Lake deposits.

Together, these oil sand deposits lie under 141,000 square kilometres (54,000 sq mi) of sparsely populated boreal forest and muskeg (peat bogs) and contain about 1.7 trillion barrels (270×10^9 m3) of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world’s total proven reserves of conventional petroleum.

With modern non-conventional oil production technology, at least 10% of these deposits, or about 170 billion barrels (27×10^9 m3) were considered to be economically recoverable at 2006 prices, making Canada’s total oil reserves the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia’s.

The Athabasca deposit is the only large oil sands reservoir in the world which is suitable for large-scale surface mining, although most of it can only be produced using more recently developed in-situ technology.