The Athabasca deposit of tar in sand in northern Alberta, Canada, is believed to contain 700 billion barrels of heavy oil. There are two operations now underway to extract and process this material, such that the tar can be changed to a liquid product which can then be transported via pipeline to refineries. These operations are gigantic undertakings, requiring draglines for overburden removal, bucket-wheel excavators, trucks, conveyors, and innumerable other pieces of mining equipment. The difficult climatic conditions, the abrasiveness of the sand, and the fact that the tar contains about 5 percent sulfur have all contributed to the high cost of operations. The initial operation was undertaken by the Great Canadian Oil Sands, Ltd., a subsidiary of the Sun Oil Company. Their effort is a pioneering one which was begun over 10 years ago and has managed to survive equipment failures, depressed oil prices, and inflation. Syncrude Canada, Ltd., in partnership with the Federal Government of Canada and the provincial governments of Alberta and Ontario, is presently constructing their plant and is scheduled for start-up by 1978. Their original estimate of investment of $2 billion has now risen to $2.8 billion. This explains, in part, why one of the largest hydrocarbon deposits in the world has been so long arriving among the ranks of major producers.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • For copies write in care of Richard J. Anderson, Editor.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Battelle Memorial Institute

    505 King Avenue
    Columbus, OH  United States  43201
  • Publication Date: 1974-10

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00083704
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 8 1975 12:00AM