Chart of the Month:
Water Use in the Alberta Oil Sands
September’s Chart of the Month is featured in the BlueTech® Insight Report “Water Treatment in the Alberta Oil Sands” written by Tyler Algeo, BlueTech® Research’s lead market analyst in Unconventional Fossil Fuels and Water. This chart highlights the water flows in the two types of bitumen extraction used in the Alberta Oil Sands – mining and in-situ. In Mining operations, approximately 8-10bbl of water is used to produce 1bbl of Synthetic Crude Oil (SCO). Approximately 80% of the tailings water that results from this is reused with the remaining 1.5-2bbl of water being “lost” (i.e. trapped in the what is called “Mature Fine Tailings”, evaporated, etc.) and subsequently replaced with “makeup water”. During steam-based In-Situ oil sands extraction, 2.5-4bbl of water goes through a boiler to generate the steam to produce 1bbl of bitumen. Up to 95% of the water can be reused (some of the steam does not come back to the surface), resulting in only 0.4 bbl of makeup water required per 1bbl of bitumen.