Environmental impacts of looking for more energy

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  • Environmental impacts of looking for more energy
    • Tar Sands, Canada
      • Contains up to 2.5 trillion barrels of oil  (more than Saudi Arabia's reserves)
      • Oil sands are made of sand, water and a hydrocarbon tar called bitumen
      • Since the rising oil prices and technological advances they have now become more feasible to extract
      • Alberta's tar sands produce a million barrels of oil a day in 2003 and expected to reach 3.5 million a day by 2011.
      • By 2030 they aim to produce at least 5 million a day and export the surplus
    • Problems
      • Oil in the shale is not easily seperated out, so immense amount of heat is needed usually through burning natural gas
      • Process uses huge amounts of water e.g. every barrel of oil produced uses 4 barrels of water
      • Issue of disposing of the shale once the oil has been removed
      • Very expensive and only viable when oil costs over $30 a barrel
      • Processes tar sands are a large source of greenhouse gas emissions
      • 470km^2 of forest have been removed and lakes of toxic waste cover 130km^2
    • Benefits
      • Alternatives source of oil during times of political or access issues
      • By 2030 the tar sands could meet 16% of North America's demand for oil -Energy Security
      • Provide additional source of energy until more renewable sources can be found
      • Mining companies are required to replant land disturbed by mining
      • Oil is vital to Canada's economy (2007 = 20% of exports)

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