Having at one time tried swimming off the government dock at Cold Lake, Alberta, we can assure you that the lake is accurately named, year ‘round. There is not much in the way of entertainments around the air base located near by and it did not take many ‘Dare yah’s’ to get young airmen to jump into that frigid water. Nobody could stay in for long.
But now we find they found a use for some of that water. A company called Canadian Natural Resources Limited is reported to be using a technology that involves heating water to steam and pumping the steam into deep wells in the Cold Lake Tar Sands area. What this company mines is not by any stretch of the imagination oil. It is not even ‘heavy oil.’ What comes from these wells is bitumen, sand and seriously polluted water. It is certainly not in an emulsion.
And once you find out what it is doing, we also find that the company is not very prompt in telling us about some of its technical problems. Canadians are only hearing now about problems that appear to have originated at least two years ago. There has been either one very serious spill or a series of spills that is effecting the local environment. How do you minimize the spill of some 1.2 million litres of polluted water, sand and bitumen?
While the company admits to the sighting of some 100 animal carcasses that were probably killed by the spill, it is actually a rather chilling statistic. Small carcasses would have been removed by predatory birds who would have in turned died and the loss of local wildlife would encompass many, many hectares of very sensitive land.
But this is a company that does not want to tell you very much about their processes and problems. It is targeting to mine and process and refine up to 500,000 barrels of synthetic crude oil from bitumen per day. That comes to roughly $50 million per day in revenue for the company. And you can do the math from there. What are a few dead animals, a polluted environment and a carbon footprint that will reach across Canada compared to that type of money?
So you might lie a little. You can make up words that cover up what you are doing. You hide the little mistakes. Heh, what is a million litres of bitumen when you have billions of litres? Though, it is probably not as much fun getting your buddies to jump off the government dock at Cold Lake today.
Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry
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