March 27, 2012 13 Comments

The Canadian Oil Boom: Infographic

The Canadian Oil Boom: Introduction to the Alberta oil sands


The Canadian Oil Boom

The Canadian Oil Sands are the world’s single largest petroleum resource at 1.7 trillion barrels. With conventional oil supply decreasing, heavy oil projects such as the oil sands become more attractive economically to meet the needs of growing demand. While environmental concerns about the oil sands remain, the options for plentiful, cost efficient, and clean oil sources are limited.

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13 Responses to “The Canadian Oil Boom”

  1. Darklamp says:

    Nice graphic.

    A couple of things about your data that should create a better picture of the future of the oil sands:

    The In-Situ method is an energy hog, using lots of natural gas to convert the water into steam. The industry uses a metric of Steam to Oil Ratio, which covers the amount of water and energy needed to produce a barrel of In-situ. How much natural gas is left to make this tar surface?

    The graphic about the reserves is very pretty. The 20% surface mining and the 80% in-situ extraction is very true. The only issue is that the top 20% (surface mining) is almost all gone. The life of this easy to access tar sands is very limited and scheduled to deplete within a short period of time. After that, what comes next? See point above.

    Another fact to add is that the tar sands currently produce 1.5 M barrels per day, so half of the Canadian production value. Most of it from the surface mining, the easy to access stuff. See point above.

    Its good to see the water, land, and ghg emissions problems. Adding the social and labour issues would give the info-graphic some more resonance.

  2. @Darklamp – Thank you very much for the constructive feedback! These are all very good points. Based on the interest we’re seeing on the topic, we may make this into a series that includes some of the points you mentioned.

    Everyone, if you have any feedback on this topic or ideas for future infographic features, please let us know!

    • Gary Reid says:

      I would to say, “Good job.”. Very interesting presentation. I have been in the World Widw Oil Industry most of my adult live and have seen environmentalist go from good work to ‘nutsy’ irresponsible work.

      It would be good to see the positive outcomes of the Tar Sands, specifically the numbers of jobs, the tax differential because of the oil sands, the growth of economic live of he oil sands, and the increasing literacy and educational opportunities of the native population around Fort Mac.

      This good work, if the suggestions in the replies I have just read and of course the suggestions herein.

      Thank you,

      Dr. Gary

  3. Andrew Browne says:

    Definitely need to focus more on the health and social effects. Would be interesting to illustrate:

    1. Rising incidences of cancer downstream on the Athabasca.
    2. Effect of “petrodollar” status on overall Canadian economy.
    3. Environmental impacts of tailings, spills, and contamination.

  4. Bill Martin says:

    As much as I would like to place solar panels on my house, and the ‘planes, trains, and automobiles’ I travel in, it does not appear that will work. Let’s all agree that the environment must be protected – but at the same time, let’s be honest about energy. When a radical enviro nut gets on any mode of transport, eats any food not specifically grown in his own garden, and uses any light source to stay up after darkness falls, then he needs to thank those who produce what he is fighting so much against. It’s easy to be a hypocrite when life is easy.

    Thank you for the energy that is produced (as cleanly as possible, of course) and for making ALL our lives much more enjoyable.

  5. gord says:

    You produce a study about Canada’s oil, discussing the fact that 80 -95% of water is recycled,
    that American coal fired plants produce 30x more emissions than the tar sands, that 70 -80% of emissions (regardless of where the oil is from) come from burning as fuel at its end use. Then conclude that “it is CLEAR that the oil sands industry creates major environmental issues concerning air quality, water contamination and land use that must be addressed as a high priority”
    Where did that come from? Was a section of your study omitted which identified these problems, because what you printed certainly doesn’t jibe with your summary, or was the environmental diatribe the actual purpose of your article?

  6. John Bastian says:

    could you send me a PDF of your The Canadian Oil Boom: Infographic presentation please
    it is very helpful
    best regards

  7. Kim Hunter says:

    I think omitting the taxpayer expenses of billions in subsidies to private oil corps. and the escalating health care expenses in AB and Sask as a consequence of these practices. The 2 – 4000 lbs of our boreal forest that is ‘moved’ for 1 barrel of oil is paramount, as the boreal forest is some of the last “lungs” of the world. Twice as much greenhouse gas is sequestered by the boreal than the amazon. 3-5 times water to oil is contaminated and dumped for 1 barrel of oil. Tailing pond(s) up to 9000 acres. AB sells 4000+ waivers of law to corps. The 4000 chemicals dumped unregulated into the Athabaska River Daily and the when the First Nations downstream asked for help from the 7x cancer rates and a 90% mortality rate in new babies, they are met with 20 years of litigation by our gov. Another great expense. The “reclamation” is proving to be a huge failure, rendering this vast land useless. The infograph is lovely, but misleading in it’s vast omissions of the real cost of the “Oil Boom”.

  8. Are you kidding says:

    Why are we looking at this technology and energy source when it’s on the down slide. Clean tech needs support as we go from Coal to Oil to Clean. It’s coming if you agree or not it’s just a metter of time. Is it because the government has oil supporters they can’t say no to? We don’t need oil we need new clean energy production and support. Ignorance is not the best solution. Tar sands is a dirty way to make money and its keeping us in the dark ages because of greed, overspending and existing infrastructure complacency. I think if people knew what they are doing overseas in places like Germany and Mascar with clean tech initiatives Canadians will one day wake up and they will be last to market if they continue to create a short term solution to a long term problem. Get educated and support the right technology and everyone will get rich and live longer lives. How short sighted and ignorant we remain as followers. Look at the real innovative leaders and scientists not greedy corporations and government. Hasn’t anyone learned by now or are we so desperate for jobs we stop thinking and doing the right thing.

  9. jim says:

    You bring up the cost needed to make the oil viable, another very important metric that would bring value to the dicussion is EROEI, especially as the in situ supply decreases and it becomes more energy intense to retrieve what is left.

  10. Mariah says:

    Hi i really love your infographic !! is very dynamic!!! and i understand how hard could it be sometimes to makes this type of infographic so congrats!!! I have a question, maybe is kind of weird but what font did you use for the small text and the big one is because i’m interesting in the font thankss!!!

    • Nick Routley says:

      Hi Mariah,

      Thank you for the kind words! The headline font on this infographic is called “Big Noodle” and the body copy is done in “Pill Gothic”. Aside from being great typefaces, they’ve got amusing names. That’s always a bonus.


      Nick Routley
      Visual Capitalist

  11. Jimbo says:

    One can only hope Canada’s liberal eco -nuts don’t derail this for your Country.Last I heard you were giving Canada back to the Indians!

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