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Science 250: Environmental Consequences

of Energy Resource Utilization
Fossil Fuels
See Montgomery
Chap 14
Photo source: AGS
Humans Use Abundant Energy
Fossil Fuels are energy stored in chemical
bonds of ancient organic life
Natural gas
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Oil shale
Tar sand
When we burn these, we use this stored
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Example: U.S. energy consumption, 1949-2001
Oil and Natural Gas
Petroleum: complex suite of chemical
compounds including oil and natural gas
associated with it
Oil i t f h li id h d b
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Oil: a variety of heavy liquid hydrocarbon
Natural Gas: gaseous hydrocarbon compounds
most commonly methane (CH
Formation of Oil and Gas Deposits
Organic matter, rich in carbon and hydrogen,
accumulate and are rapidly buried
Rapid burial aids in decay of organic material
protecting it from oxygen and biological
reactions that would destroy the formation of the
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Source of organic material is microscopic life
abundant in seas of the earth
These organisms die and their remains settle to sea
Some natural gases are derived by burial of massive
amounts of plant material
Formation of Oil and Gas Deposits
A mixture of hydrocarbon products are
derived from most oil fields
Time and history of the formation of the
energ deposit are factors
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energy deposit are factors
Heat and pressure act to modify the organic
Large organic molecules (heavy
hydrocarbons) will be broken down into
smaller molecules (lighter hydrocarbons)
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Oil and Gas Migration
Solid organic matter converted to liquids and/or
gases (hydrocarbons)
Liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon migrate out of the
rocks in which they formed
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This migration is required so that the hydrocarbon
will pool in economically usable deposits
Reservoir rocks for hydrocarbon are overlain by
impermeable caps that trap the migration of the
hydrocarbons, otherwise, oil and gas may keep
rising to the earths surface
Schematic diagram showing migration and
trapping of oil
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Types of petroleum traps
Primary Production of Oil
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Time Factor
Very few hydrocarbon deposits are found in rocks less
than 1 to 2 million years old
Geologists suspect the process is slow and takes longer
than a few tens of thousands of years
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Oil and Natural gas are nonrenewable energy
The organic material falling to the sea floors today will
not be useful as petroleum products in our lifetime
Supply and Demand for Oil
Consumption rates have increased
Proved reserves have increased
Unevenly distributed around the world
Most oil is consumed by highly industrialized countries
Week 6 15 Phote: Globe and Mail
Proven World Reserves
Week 6 16 Source: British Petroleum
Production and consumption by region
Week 6 17 Source: British Petroleum
Consumption per capita
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Source: British Petroleum
Major Petroleum Producing Regions of the World
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Projection of Oil Production
Future Prospects
Exploration expected to increase with
dwindling supply of conventional oil and
natural gas
Most promising areas have been explored
A few protected or environmentally sensitive
fields do exist
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Costs of exploration have gone up, yet yield
from producing wells is declining
Average depth of oil well drilled is increasing
Average production from wells is decreasing
Enhanced Oil Recovery
New technologies have increased production from
marginally producing fields
Primary recovery limited to original pumping
Secondary recovery pump water into reservoir to
fill i t d b il t b
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fill in empty pores and buoy up more oil to be
pumped from the well
Enhanced recovery used after primary and
secondary recovery techniques have depleted the
recoverable oil
As much as 75% of the oil remains in the reservoir
A variety of technologies can be used to obtain more oil
from such reservoirs
Enhanced Oil Production
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Note: Can also inject carbon dioxide to enhance oil
production and sequester GHGs
Shale Gas
Changes in drilling techniques allow production
of previously inaccesible natural gas
Production involves installation of vertical and
lateral wells and use of hydrofracturing y g
(fracking) of shale to increase permeability
Water and sand or other materials injected at high
pressure into shale to open fractures
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Large collection networks provide high yields of
natural gas
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Altered landscape from shale gas extraction
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Environmental/safety concerns
Consumption of water
Leakage of natural gas along well conduits
and potentially into potable water supplies
L k f fl id t d i li d d Leakage of fluids stored in lined ponds
Triggering of earthquakes?
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Alternate Natural Gas Sources
Methane in methane hydrate exists as
crystalline solids of gas and water molecules
Found to be abundant in the arctic regions
and in marine sediments
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It is not clear how we can tap into this
potential reservoir
It is not clear how climate change will affect
Methane Hydrate
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Occur as nodules, laminae, or veins
within sediment
- Crystalline solids consist of gas molecules,
usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of
water molecules
- Looks and acts like ice, but contains vast
amounts of methane
Estimated reservoir of gas hydrates relative to other C sources
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Example map of gas hydrate deposits
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Mallik exploration well in Canada
Source: NRCAN
Gas hydrate may cause landslides and release of
methane to atmosphere
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Source: USGS
Melting of polar ice cap may lead to release of
methane to atmosphere
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Release of Petroleum Hydrocarbon
to the Environment
Spills to land and sea
occur during production, refinement,
transport/distribution, storage
damage biota, water supplies
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damage biota, water supplies
Containment and remediation
may require decades or longer
Release associated with oil production
Disposal of saline water co-produced with oil/natural gas
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Disposal in un-lined brine pit
Disposal using injection well
Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Spills during production: Example BP Gulf Oil Spill
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Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Oil Spills
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Containment of Oil Spills
Damage Control techniques:
Floating barriers and skimmers
Mop up with absorbent material (wood chips, peat
moss, chicken feathers, )
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Burn it off
Can be toxic and persistant
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NPRI Map of Industrial Releases Environment Canada
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UpstreamOil and Gas
Oil and Gas Refining and Distribution
Oil Sands and HeavyOil
Remaining colours: other industrial releases
NPRI Map for Alberta
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Oil Spills on Land
Example: Alberta
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Alberta Energy and Utilities Board,
Different fractions
have different
properties and
therefore different
environmental fates
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Petroleum Contaminated Sites
Canadian Federal Contaminated Sites and Solid
Waste Landfills Inventory
Government Sites only
1,396 Hydrocarbon contaminated sites in 2005
US EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks
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US EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks
2,100,000 USTs, 99% Contain Petroleum
464,728 releases have been confirmed
435,631 cleanups have been initiated
350,813 cleanups have been completed
113,915 cleanups have not yet been completed
Fiscal Year 2006
Completed 14,493 cleanups
Confirmed 8,361 new releases
Spills infiltrate into subsurface
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Reported Spills in Alberta
Alberta Energy and
Utilities Board
1,443 spills, 8,600 m
50 Priority 1
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pose the most serious
environmental and public
274 Priority 2
where a significant volume
has been released or the
impact on the environment
is a concern
Alberta Energy and Utilities Board,
Compounds of Concern
Petroleum mixtures; i.e. crude oil, gasoline, jet fuel,
are made of several organic compounds
The degree of concern for each compound is dependent
on its properties
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Aerobic degradation
Dissolved Plume
Vapour Plume
From R. Amos
Case Study
Bemidji, Minnesota
Oil pipeline burst in
1.7 million L of oil
ill d (11 000
Enbridge/Lakehead oil Pipelines
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spilled (11,000
400,000 L remained
after initial cleanup
Aerial View of Oil Spill Site
Site of pipeline
Oil pool
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Spray Zone:
200 m
Oil Cleanup
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~1,300,000 L Recovered
soil cores
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Collection of water samples
Collection of push-
pull water samples
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Groundwater Contamination in Vicinity of Crude Oil Spill
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Geochemical zones in the plume of dissolved constituents: Source USGS
Sequence of biogeochemical reactions develop in
aquifer downgradient of spill
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Source: U.S. Geological Survey
Petroleum Contamination Relative to Other Contaminant Sources
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Provides about 20% of U.S. energy supply
More than 50% of U.S. electric power generation
Formation of Coal Deposits
Coal is formed from remains of land plants, not
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from marine organisms
Swamp settings ideal with abundant trees and
Requires anaerobic conditions to convert the
fallen trees and dead leaves into coal
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Anthracite Lignite
Coal Forming Process
Peat first combustible product to form
Forms at surface given the suitable conditions
Lignite soft brown form of coal
Bituminous harder variety of coal
Anthracite hardest variety of coal
Harder coal gives off more heat for a given weight
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In general, the longer the time to form, the higher the
grade of coal
Coal is a nonrenewable resource
U.S. coal reserves represent about 50 times the
energy in the remaining oil reserves and 40 times the
energy of remaining natural gas reserves
Week 6 67 Many deposits from carboniferous period
Coal Reserves and Resources
Estimated world reserves of 1 trillion tons
Estimated 10 trillion tons in total resources
Estimated U.S. reserves over 270 billion tons
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of recoverable coal
Estimated 2.7 trillion tons in total resources
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Coal Mining Methods
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Strip Mining
Underground mining
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Source: Coal Association of Canada
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Source: Coal Association of Canada
Limitations on Coal Use
Coal is not clean
To mine
To burn
To handle
Coal is not easy to transport
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Coal can be converted to a liquid fuel by liquefaction
Coal can be converted to a gas by gasification
Low heat gas mix of carbon monoxide, methane, and
Produces about 15 to 30% of the heat as methane
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Various technologies are being developed to
increase the quality and production of this gas
In situ production projects ongoing
Liquid fuel has been generated from coal in the past
North America not poised technologically or
economically to generate this alternative fuel
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economically to generate this alternative fuel
May be possible and practical in the future
Environmental Impacts of Coal Use
Produces abundant carbon dioxide when burned
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
Liberates sulfur as sulfur dioxide into atmosphere
upon burning
Acid Rain: sulfur dioxide is toxic and complexes with
atmospheric water to produce sulfuric acid
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Liberates ash upon burning
Ash is as much as 20% of the volume of coal
Often contains toxic elements such as selenium, uranium and
Coal mining poses further problems: safety and
environmental issues
Coal-Mining Hazards and
Environmental Impacts
Underground mining of coal is dangerous and
Mines can collapse
Miners contract black lung disease from coal dust or cancer
from radon gas
Explosions occur from pockets of natural gas
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Explosions occur from pockets of natural gas
Strip mining exposes the coal to the weather
Rain water and air comes in contact with sulfur in the coal
beds or waste rock releases sulfuric acid and toxic
Coal mine reclamation is expensive and time
Byproducts of Coal Combustion
Air borne contaminants
N, S oxides
Soot, smoke, ash
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Solid residue
Fly ash
Bottom ash
Scrubber waste
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Principal sources of U.S. air pollutants, 1998
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U.S. particulate emissions have been controlled
Carbon Gases
- carbon dioxide
Byproduct of coal combustion
Currently released to atmosphere
Pilot projects directed at capturing CO
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Sulfur Gases
More than 50 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO
are emitted worldwide each year mainly from coal
- sulfur dioxide forms acid rain
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very short residence time (days or hours)
O + O
(sulfuric acid)
lowers pH of rain to <5.6, the pH of uncontaminated
can cause lung and eye irritation
contributor to water pollution
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Emissions of sulfur dioxide
Nitrogen Gases and Smog Ozone
Complex chemistry
oxygen and nitrogen are very abundant in the
high temperatures cause nitrogen and oxygen to form
nitrogen oxide compounds
O +O
(nitric acid)
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O + O
(nitric acid)
+strong sun light will produce photochemical
can breakdown in sun light to NO and will
react with common oxygen (O
) to form ozone (O
Mercury (Hg)
Complex chemistry
Release to atmosphere primarily result of coal
Long range atmospheric transport has led to
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Long-range atmospheric transport has led to
widespread contamination of waterbodies
Bioaccumulation in food chain
In North America, primary cause of fish
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Mercury in Coal
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Mercury cycling is complex
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Mercury in Ontario by Sector
Less coal burned than
in U.S.
Hg deposited by long-
range transport from
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g p
Cumulative amount is
Source: Environment Canada
Case Study: Mercury in Lake Sediment
Location - Alberta
Wabumun Lake
Four power plants built
since 1950 within 35 km
radius of lake
Sediment concentrations
f H C Pb A d S
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of Hg, Cu, Pb, As and Se
increased by 1.2- to 4-
Fluxes of Hg have
increased 6-fold
Mercury in Sediment
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Donahue, W.F., Allen, E.W., Schindler, D.W., 2006. J . Paleolimnol., 35: 111128
Majority of fish advisories for inland lakes in Ontario based on elevated Hg
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Geologic Unit
Coal Spoils
Waste impoundments
Typical coal-fired power plant produces > 1 million tones of solid waste/year
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Fly ash (5-20%)
Scrubber solids
Bottom ash
Atmospheric contaminants
Coal Spoil Piles
Source of low quality drainage
Oxidation of sulfide minerals in coal
Similar to wastes from metal mines
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Drainage contains acid, sulfate, metals and
other toxic substances which enter
groundwater and surface water
Coal Mine Spoils
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AMD Generated from Sulfide Rich Coal Spoils
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Damaged areas can be extensive
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Pipes for slurrying coal ash to settling ponds
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Coal Ash Impoundments and Ponds
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Release of Toxic Substances from Fly Ash
Toxic substances
released to
groundwater and
surface water
Release of Se, As,
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South Carolina tadpoles living
in wetland adjacent to fly ash
pond developed malformations
(inset, center and right,
compared with normal tadpole,
left). Photo credit: David Scott,
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Hg and other
elements can occur
at concentrations
sufficient to cause
health effects
Coal Ash Spill, Tennessee, Dec. 2008
1 billion gallons spilled
15 homes flooded with fly ash
extensive damage to rivers
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Associated Press
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Source: U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
acquired December 22, 2008
NASA Earth Observatory
Images: Coal Ash Spill
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acquired November 20, 2008
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Sampling Program
Source: U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Combined Disposal of Coal Combustion Waste and Coal
Mine Wastes:
Return of Coal Combustion Wastes to Original Mine Site
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Coal Combustion Residue Mixed with
Coal Refuse
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Neutralize acid mine drainage
Infill mine workings to prevent
Increase structural stability
Increase loading of toxic
substances beyond what
natural system can handle
Increase chances for dam
Increase dust and traffic
Clean Coal
Requires removal of CO
, Hg, S, and safe management of combustion wastes and mine wastes
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Coal Bed Methane
Can result in release of low-quality water and lowering of water levels
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Impacts Associated with CBM
Extraction of low-quality water
Management and disposal?
Lowering of water levels
P t ti f f h t if
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Protection of freshwater aquifers
Management of drilling muds
Oil (Tar) Sands
Oil Sands
sedimentary deposits which contain a very
thick, semi-solid, tarlike petroleum
may represent very immature petroleum
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Oil shale and oil (tar) sand must be
mined, (crushed), and heated to extract
the petroleum, which can then be
refined into various fuels
Oil (Tar) Sands
Investment, including pipelines and upgraders,
now totals $200 billion CND
Development has become worlds largest
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energy project
construction project
capital project
No comprehensive environmental assessment
has been conducted
Oil Sand Distribution in Alberta
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Reservoir of Petroleum in Oil Sands versus Conventional Resources
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Aerial picture of the Syncrude oil sands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: Chris Evans, The Pembina Institute
Production of Oil from Oil Sands
Shallow sands excavated and trucked or slurried to
upgrader facility
Sands heated and processed to release oil
Requires energy and water to process oil
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Requires energy and water to process oil
2-4 barrels of water per barrel of crude
~2 barrels of oil to produce 1 barrel of crude
Produces large volumes of wastes
~2 tonnes of oil sand required to produce one barrel of liquid
Wastes Generated from Oil Sands
Mined oil sand typically contains
11% bitumen
5% water
84% sand and clay
~75% of bitumen present in sand can be
Bitumen contains on average
83.2% carbon
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83 %ca bo
10.4% hydrogen
0.94% oxygen
0.36% nitrogen
4.8% sulfur
After processing, sand waste and unextracted
bitumen are used as backfill in mined out areas
~3 barrels of waste water is dumped into
tailings ponds per barrel of oil produced.
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The Syncrude mine fromthe air. The mining operations strip awayboreal forest
and mine up to 100 metres into the earth.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: Chris Evans, The Pembina Institute
Material which contains lower quantities of
bitumen and is therefore not extracted
This material is often excavated to gain access
to bitumen-rich deposits
Excavation increases exposure to water and air
and can cause
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and can cause
Infiltration of water and increased contaminant
Contamination of groundwater
Elevated alkalinity, salts, metals, and leached bitumen and
degradation products
Long-term prognosis?
Tailings Ponds
Extremely large ponds containing clays, sands,
Long times (decades) needed to
settle fines
evaporate water
or drain water
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or drain water
Infiltrating water can enter groundwater zone
resulting in formation of large plumes of contaminated
Water contains toxic substances
e.g. napthenic acids, metals, salts, etc.
Reclamation will be difficult and costly
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Tailings ponds near the Syncrude upgrader, north of Fort McMurray.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
Case Study
Tailings Pond
Syncrude Canada
Mildred Lake Oil
Sands Site
Borders western
bank of Athabasca
River 35 kmnorth of
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River, 35 km north of
Fort McMurray
Reference: Oiffer,
A.A.L., Barker, J .F.,
Gervais, F.M, Mayer,
K.U., Ptacek, C.J .,
Rudolph, D.L., 2009.
J. Contam. Hydrol.,
Mildred Lake Oil Sands
Tailings Pond
Tailings pond water
evaporates or slowly infiltrates
into subsurface
Plume of contaminated
groundwater has developed
downgradient of impoundment
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Groundwater contains
elevated concentrations of
, Na, Cl, SO
, and
naphthenic acids (NAs)
After 20 years, no indications
NA has been attenuated
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The Athabasca River (bottomleft), various ponds at the Suncor upgraner and tailings ponds the background.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
Sulfur and Waste Piles
Bitumen contains elevated concentrations of
sulfur (coke contains > 5% S)
Desulfurization step is required
Involves breaking of C-S bonds
R i t d lt i d ti
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Requires energy, water and results in production
of large sulfur piles and emissions of SO
Long-term environmental impacts need to be
acid rain
acid drainage from sulfur piles
What happens to excess sulfur?
In 2006, in Alberta, there
were more than 15 million
tonnes in storage in the
form of sulfur blocks
Amount exceeds market
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Sulfur piles pose a liability
Need to treat water and
neutralize acid
Costs are high (up to $3.00
annually per tonne of
stored sulfur)
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Sulphur stored at Syncrude's Upgrader site.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute, Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
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Viewof tailings ponds looking south over the Syncrude upgrader north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
Petroleum Coke
Product of refining
Contains elevated concentrations of As, V,
Ni, Sb, etc.
P t ti l f l hi i ll l
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Potential for leaching, especially over long
Little is known about environmental
Summary of Environmental Impacts
Associated with Oil Sands Development
Stripping of boreal forest
Consumption of water
Consumption of energy
Contamination of surface water and
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Contamination of air (N,S)
Increase in GHGs through
removal of boreal forest, consumption of energy
to produce oil, consumption of energy when oil
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The Suncor upgrader plant and related facilities fromthe air.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: Chris Evans, The Pembina Institute
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The Athabasca River flows north fromits glacial source in J asper National Park to the Arctic Ocean.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
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The Athabasca River delta is the largestfresh water delta in the world
and is downstreamfromAlberta's oil sands operations.
Copyright2005 The Pembina Institute
Photo: David Dodge, The Pembina Institute
Future Directions in Oil Sands
Newer developments focused on extracting
oil from deeper formations using in situ
Steam injection
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Solvent injection
Consumes large amounts of water and
Can cause groundwater contamination
Other effects?
Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD)
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Summary of Water Use During
Production of Fossil Fuel
Conventional oil
Secondary recovery methods use water to maintain
formation pressures
Tertiary recovery methods use water to generate steam or
surfactant solutions
Coal extraction
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Dewatering to gain access to coal
Acid mine drainage
Coalbed methane
Water is pumped out to release pressure and methane
Tar sands
Water is used in extraction of heavy crude from oil sands
Shale gas
Water is injected for fracking activities

Summary of Pollutant Release
Associated with Petroleum Production
Release of poor quality formation
Release of contaminated drilling
Release of petroleum products
during refining transportation
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during refining, transportation,
distribution and from wells
Release of contaminants from
tailings impoundments at tar
sands upgrader plants
Accidental spills at sea or on