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Canadian oil sands could be leading US import in 2010

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Oil sands production, combined with exports of Canadian conventional crude oil, have already put Canada in the position of number one foreign supplier of oil to the USA. Over the past decade, production from oil sands more than doubled from 600,000 bpd in 2000 to 1.35 million bpd in 2009, more than offsetting declines in conventional Canadian production. But the potential is much larger and oil sands growth could be three or four times greater than today to a range of 3.1 million bpd to 5.7 million bpd by 2030, according to a report by IHS CERA Canadian Oil Sands Dialogue.

US oil demand

While oil demand in the USA is not likely to return to its 2005 peak, the country will maintain its position as the world’s largest oil market over the next two decades, the report notes. Oil sands imports could ultimately increase to a range of 20% - 36% of US oil and refined product imports by 2030 from the 2009 level of 8%.

“The fact that oil sands by themselves are set to become the largest single source of US crude oil imports this year, emphasises the importance they have attained as a supply source for the United States,” said IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin.

Environmental concerns

Environmental footprint concerns related to oil sands development include water and land use and the reclamation of tailings—the fine silt-like waste material produced during oil sands production. At the project level, government regulation of oil sands activities is highly developed and is as robust as in many other oil-producing regions in the world, the report finds. However, high growth will require further advances in water management practices and the pace and scale of tailings management and site reclamation.

The total ‘well-to-wheels’ greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands; from extraction and processing through combustion of its refined products, are approximately 5 - 15% higher than the average crude oil processed in the USA.

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