Oil Sands Watch | Pembina Institute



In situ production not an environmental gamechanger

While oil sands mining is set to expand for decades, in situ techniques are expected to surpass mining by 2017, changing the face of oil sands production. Industry has argued in situ is a less impactful form of production, but we've done our homework and the results don't support industry claims. read more...

First ever report card on deep oil sands reveals significant room for improvement

Some in-situ environmental impacts as serious as mining

Drilling Deeper: The In Situ Oil Sands Report Card is the first comparative environmental assessment of in situ oil sands projects. Scores among the nine Canadian operating projects surveyed ranged from 25% to 60%, with five of nine projects scoring less than 50%. The average score of 44% demonstrates substantial room for improvement across the sector.

In situ extraction techniques are used where oilsands deposits lie too deep underground to surface mine. Given that about 80,000 square kilometres of Alberta, an area the size of Scotland, has been leased for in-situ development, the potential environmental impact of these projects could be significant.

Full Report | Fact Sheet | Best Practices Checklist

Only Two Oil Sands Mines Set to Meet Tailings Rules

Tailings volume to increase to 1.1 trillion litres

A comprehensive review of regulatory documents conducted by the Pembina Institute and Water Matters found that only two of nine oil sands operations reported they would comply with a new provincial law designed to limit increases in tailings, the toxic liquid waste produced by oil sands mining operations.

The seven remaining operations submitted plans that will not comply with rules for reducing their production of liquid tailings by the first target date in 2011. Some companies submitted plans suggesting they may not meet the rules for tailings management for over 40 years.

Full Report | Backgrounder | Media Release

Oil Sands Growth Linked to Pipeline Capacity

Domestic demand for oil from the oil sands is not expected to increase significantly, but the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project would facilitate growth in oil sands production by providing an export pipeline to the British Columbia coast. If the current business-as-usual management of the oil sands prevails, the environmental impacts associated with the pipelines will be significant.

Opening the Door to Oil Sands Expansion: The Enbridge Oil Sands Pipeline highlights the climate, land, water and air impacts that would occur as a result of this project. It recommends that before further steps are taken to develop the Enbridge oil sands pipeline, the environmental management concerns of the oil sands need to be addressed and a public inquiry that could engage communities in the full range of impacts be concluded.

Fact Sheet | Media Release

Oil Sands in Saskatchewan

Oil sands development is still in its early stages in Saskatchewan and there is an opportunity to do things properly to avoid the mistakes of Alberta.

The oil sands in Saskatchewan could hold as much as 2.3 billion barrels of bitumen, and cover an area of 27,000 square kilometres. Carbon Copy: Preventing Oil Sands Fever in Saskatchewan is a new report from the Pembina Institute, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. It outlines key steps that would be required to ensure any oil sands development proceeds responsibly.

Full Report | Fact Sheet | Media Release