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Reports and Resources

Several independent review boards and agencies have published reports about the impact of the oil sands. Here are some of them.

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Environmental and Health Impacts of Canada's Oil Sands Industry External link - opens in a new window

The Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel, December 2010

A number of key findings were made by The Royal Society of Canada's Expert Panel over the course of a more than year-long investigation, giving Alberta more information to work with. Alberta Environment has posted a pdf with its comments on the RSC findings. Download it here.

The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security vs. Climate Change External link - opens in a new window

Council on Foreign Relations, Michael A. Levi, May 2009

Precis: Due to the deep and rich trading relationship between Canada and the United States, the US derives significant benefit from this increased economic activity across many sectors throughout the United States. Environmental impacts are overstated.

The Role of Canadian Oil Sands in US Oil Supply External link - opens in a new window

IHS-Cambridge Energy Research Associates, April 2010

Precis: Oil supply from Canada is stable, proximate, connected by pipelines, and part of a limited set of oil development opportunities in which private oil companies - including US firms - can openly and securely invest. At the project level, government regulation of Canadian oil developments is among the most robust in the world.

The Economic and Employment Impacts of Climate-Related Technology Investments External link - opens in a new window

The Conference Board of Canada, May 2010

The Status of Biodiversity in the Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries' Forest Management Agreement Area: Preliminary Assessment External link - opens in a new window

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, October 2009

Precis: Biological diversity (plants and wildlife) in the oil sands development area is up to 97 per cent intact. In context, an urban mall parking lot is 0 per cent intact, a pristine wilderness untouched by humans is 100 per cent intact.

Wood Buffalo Environmental Association Ambient Air Quality Data: Summary and Trend Analysis  External link - opens in a new window

University of Alberta School of Public Health, 2009

Precis: Despite ongoing development, it is apparent that there is little or no pattern to the changes in concentrations of various air pollutants across the oil sands region during the past 10 years.

CEMA and RAMP Community Update: A Report to the Residents of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo 2009 External link - opens in a new window

Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program

Precis: Generally, water quality was similar between stations located within and outside oil sands development and when compared to conditions prior to development.

Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors External link - opens in a new window

National Round Table on Energy and the Environment (NRTEE), June 2010

Precis: Estimated water use for in situ oil sands production can vary from 0.4 to 5.5 barrels of water per barrel of bitumen. A common misconception is that the water requirements involve only water from surface or groundwater sources. In fact, a substantial amount of process water is recycled. For example, a mature mine can use about 80% recycled water from its tailings ponds for the process water. Surface-mining oil sands production uses from 2.0 to 4.0 barrels of water (net) per barrel of bitumen produced

Life Cycle Assessment Comparison for North American and Imported Crudes External link - opens in a new window

Jacobs Consultancy, July 2009

Precis: GHG emission gaps between bitumen and conventional crudes are smaller than reported in some prior studies. The wide range of GHG impact from conventional crudes as a result of energy intensive production methods is one of the significant outcomes of this study and will enable more informed discussion of LCFS policy.

From Well to Wheels: Life-cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Various Sources of Crude Oil External link - opens in a new window

Cambridge Energy Research Associates, October 2009

Precis: GHG emissions associated with Canadian oil sands are generally higher than those for the US average crude because a significant amount of energy is used to extract the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it. However, [there are] other sources of crude oil with high well-to-pump GHG emissions: Venezuelan heavy crude oil, Nigerian crude oils, and crude oils from mature assets that require steam for EOR. This last group includes domestic resources such as California heavy oil and certain fields in the Gulf of Mexico and the Middle East.

Comparison of North American and Imported Crude Oil Lifecycle GHG Emissions External link - opens in a new window

TIAX LLC, July 2009

Precis: On average, the synbit/dilbit pathway emissions considered here are 10% higher than the average conventional crude oil pathways considered.

Alternative Fossil-Based Transportation Fuels, Economic Benefits and Environmental Concerns External link - opens in a new window

RAND, 2008

Precis: Carbon capture and storage could technically cut life cycle emissions from the oil sands to less than life cycle emissions associated with light sweet crude.


Reports and websites from around the web





Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program External link - opens in a new window

American Petroleum Institute 

The Oil Sands Developers Group

Oil Sands Review External link - opens in a new window

Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada External link - opens in a new window

Strategy West Inc.

Riz Khan

(Interview, 16 July 09)

Syncrude External link - opens in a new window