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Jun 26 / Dave Schumaker

A new look at the Athabasca Oil Sands

As the price per barrel of oil continues to rise, oil reserves that were previously uneconomical to extract are now looking more attractive. People are starting to pay more attention to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, known as the Athabasca Oil Sands. This is a topic we previously covered last year.

60 Minutes is taking a fresh look at the mining operations that are currently underway in Alberta to extract these tar oils. There are 175 billion barrels of proven oil deposits located within these sands and they are being mined at a feverioush pace. It is estimated that up to two trillion barrels of oil may exist within these deposits.

Of course there are similar sorts of tar sands (and oil shales) located in other places as well, such as Utah. This article from 2005 talks about the estimated 400 billion barrels of that exist beneath Utah and 2 other states in the Green River Formation.

Coupled with this article from yesterday, things are looking up for the United States and the world as a whole in terms of oil availability.

However, the real question is whether or not we want to extract all that sequestered carbon (when burned, such as in a car, becomes CO2 which is a known greenhouse gas) and reintroduce it into the atmosphere. I’m willing to bet that we don’t.

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