Currently, the United States gets most of its oil from North America, either domestically or from Canada, specifically from the oil sands in Alberta Canada.
What are Oil Sands?
Oil sands are crude deposits that are substantially heavier (more viscous) than other crude oils. Oil sands consist of sand, bitumen, mineral rich clays and water. Bitumen is a product of the oil sands that requires upgrading to synthetic crude oil or dilution with lighter hydrocarbons to make it transportable by pipelines and usable by refineries.
Alberta’s oil sands are abundant, accessible, and affordable sources of (heavy) crude oil. With the continuing decline of conventional North American crude oil reserves, the focus is turning towards oil sands exploration, development, and production.
The opportunity presented by heavy oil runs counter to the trend of declining world oil reserves. At a time when conventional light oil reserves decline faster than the rate of replacing them, the identification and commercialization of heavy oil is enjoying an upward trend.
|Operations – Alberta Oil Sands|
Heavy oil production in Alberta now exceeds that of light oil, and the disparity is predicted to widen into the future. Although the tar sands of North East Alberta are forecast to be a large part of this situation, there is an increasing trend in the identification of previously overlooked mobile heavy oil in the north central region of the province, distinct from the tar sands. These oil finds are characterized by significantly higher production rates and larger areal extent than had been understood in previous times.