The increase of global energy demand will only grow within time driven by population growth. Everybody wants to live the life of higher standards so desire to achieve that also includes more energy resources. One of the significant roles in this situation also have hydrocarbons and unconventional sources of oil and gas including oil sands. Canada presents one of the main leaders of this resource, especially in northern Alberta. For Canada, energy sector presents a leading economic driver and oil sands is a reliable source not only for Canada but also for North America.
But this significant energy source also brings significant environmental impact. This impact is made from tailing ponds, water use, surface land exploration, GHG emissions and air pollutants. This is why the government and energy industry is also focused on monitoring of the environment and clean technology improvement. This impact has also been the main topic of many scientific researches and studies in Canada.
Greenhouse gas emissions through the whole process of burning the fossil fuels in the oil sands industry is much more significant than for the example with the conventional crude oil industry. And we all know about the contribution of these gases to the greenhouse effect and global warming of our planet.
A large amount of water is requested while extracting bitumen from oil sands. This water is used from local freshwater sources such as rivers and new water is used on daily basis. This can be solved easily by recycling but only small part of this used water will be returned in its natural cycle.
Various pollutants are released throughout the operations in oil sand companies such as SOx and NOx. This is not only harmful to nature but also pretty harmful to humanity.
Tailing ponds impact
These ponds contain a significant amount of the waste byproduct which is made through the oil sand industry operations. This presents a mixture of silt, sand, hydrocarbons, clay, water, and other toxins. This presents a really toxic product for aquatic life while tailing water enters the water systems.
Land use change and reclamation
Outnumbering wetlands are used while presenting important habitats for many wildlife creatures. After using them in oil sands industry it is very hard to restore them to their natural condition from before.
Canada’s Oil Sand Innovation Alliance is doing the best work to boost the clean technology for improving environment conservation in the oil sands industry.