MP Bryan Hayes recently had the opportunity to tour Alberta’s oil sands. “This opportunity awarded me a much more thorough understanding of one of Canada’s greatest natural resources,” said MP Hayes. Canada is the largest oil supplier to the United States and is home to the third largest oil reserves in the world with 97% of these in Alberta’s oil sands. “With global demands for energy expected to rise 47% by 2035, Canada’s oil sands are extremely important to our nation’s economy.”
The economic impact of Alberta’s oil sands cannot be overrated. They are expected to contribute $84 billion a year to Canada’s economy over the next 25 years. Alberta companies have signed millions of dollars in contracts with companies throughout Canada to support activity in the oil sands. It is anticipated that 75,000 jobs in 2010 could turn into 905,000 jobs in 2035 – for every job created in Alberta, one indirect job will be created in the rest of Canada. “Certain industries such as manufacturing, machinery and metal fabrication will benefit, in particular, Atlantic Canada and Ontario,” continued Hayes.
The Alberta Government is investing in research, through the University of Calgary, to develop technology and policies to reduce emissions in Canada’s fossil fuel energy sector. The oil sands industry has reduced Green House Gas (GHG) emissions per barrel of oil produced by an average of 29% between 1990 and 2009. In 2007, the Government of Alberta implemented GHG regulations which have resulted in emission reductions of 23 mega tonnes (equivalent to taking 4.8 million cars off the road). Even with the improvements in GHG emissions, they still present a problem. “The Canadian Government is committed to making sure Canada is a leader in Carbon Capture and Storage, an important technology that helps prevent emissions from entering the atmosphere,” said Hayes. Canada’s oil sands account for 6.5% of our national GHG emissions and .1% of global emissions.
Alberta law requires that all lands disturbed by oil sands operations be reclaimed. At this point only .02% of Canada’s boreal forest has been disturbed by oil sands mining over the past 40 years. As the oil sands industry grows, reclamation developments are seeing vast improvements. Reclamation certification means that the drainage and the vegetation of the disturbed land must be integrated in the surrounding landscape after mining. After trees and shrubs are planted, companies monitor the land for several years. They monitor things like: soils, trees, vegetation, water quality and wildlife. Reclamation can take decades to complete. “It was very rewarding to see bison roaming on one of the reclaimed sections of land as verification of the sustainability of reclamation,” concluded Hayes.