Tar sands companies like Syncrude, Suncor, Chevron and British Petroleum mining tar sands deposits worldwide are frequently targeted by environment groups because tar sands are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Like all mining and non-renewable resource development projects, tar sand deposits and their operations have a negative effect on the environment. Tar sands companies are frequently targeted by environment groups for their poor environmental track record. Oil extraction companies have generated so much negative publicity that these companies are finding it increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain permits for extraction and waste disposal.
Tar sands or Oil Sands as they are sometimes called, are found in over 60 countries around the world including Canada, Russia, Venezuela and the Caribbean. Oil sands are a composite mix of gas, water, mineral deposits that include sand and bitumen (crude oil). Oil is extracted by infusing the sediment with heated water to raise the temperature of the Bitumen mixture so it will flow. The largest oil sands deposits are found in the Cretaceous rocks of Alberta, Canada.
Canadian Tar Sands
The Athabasca deposit is the largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with deposits in Peace River and Cold Lake. The International Energy Agency (IEA) lists Canada's reserves as being roughly 300 billion barrels and with approximately a total of 10% being recoverable at today’s prices making Canada's total proven reserves the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia.
Alberta Tar Sands
More than a million barrels of crude flow out of Alberta’s oil sands plants every day and environmentally, it’s a disaster zone. The oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in Canada. By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in the country. A government report concluded "an accident related to the failure of one of the oil sands tailing ponds could have catastrophic impact in the aquatic ecosystem of the Mackenzie River Basin due to the size of these lakes and their proximity to the Athabasca River."
Some, like Syncrude and Suncor, have spent millions reclaiming mined lands in an attempt to generate positive PR planting young nursery tree seedlings, however these can take up to 80 years to mature. Needless to say, environment groups and governments are not impressed. They feel these companies could be doing more.
Planting Trees Can Generate Positive PR and Reduce Fines
Tall fast growing trees can help tar sands companies create positive PR, reduce environmental fines and develop a "green" themed stream of income growing trees. Tree Planation grows the tallest tree seedlings in the world; growing both hardwoods and softwoods to an average height of 15 feet before they are shipped and transplanted helping tar sands companies create "instant" forests where there were none before.