And how much oil is there? Estimates bounced around for years until 1999, when Alberta got serious about determining its potential. Based on data from 56,000 wells and 6,000 core samples, the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) came up with an astonishing figure: The amount of oil that could be recovered with existing technology totalled 175 billion barrels, enough to cover U.S. consumption for more than 50 years. With the new math, Canada slipped quietly into second place behind Saudi Arabia’s 265 billion barrels in oil reserves, followed by Iran and Iraq.
Edward Burtynsky took some photos of the oil sands to accompany the piece. (thx, marshall)
Update: VBS.tv did a report on the oil sands as part of the Toxic Series. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about the oil sands for the New Yorker late last year; unfortunately only an abstract of the article is available online. (thx, meg, ben, sanj, and greg)