S: Refining the Alberta oil sands... Canada's Environmental Disaster Hau
BC: 2012 Copyright "The Matthew Hau Book Company" All rights reserved.
FC: Canada's Environmental Disasters | refining The Alberta oil sands and keystone xl pipeline... | Author: Matthew Hau
1: What is Oil Refining? | Before we look further into oil refining and the environmental problems, we should know a basic concept of it first. Oil refining is the process where oil sands or crude oil is changed into a higher grade of fuel. | When we refine oil sands, we use four processes to refine it. Firstly, there is extraction, where the oil sand is broken down. Next, there is froth treatment, which makes the bitumen cleaner. Thirdly, there is upgrading, which turns the properties of the bitumen into gasoline. Finally, there's refining, which turns the remaining bitumen into different products. You will see a more detailed report later in the book. | When we refine crude oil, it is shipped by pipeline to a refinery plant. The refinery plant pumps it into a fractional distillation column, where they separate the bitumen into different substances based on the boiling points. When it is done refining, the different substances are pumped to different plants, where it is ready for consumer use.
2: The Athabasca Oil Sands are one of the regions of the Alberta Oil Sands. | What are the Alberta Oil Sands? | The Alberta Oil Sands are three groups of land that have large reserves of bitumen in them. There are three areas of the Alberta Oil Sands- Athabasca, Peace River, and Cold Lake. Workers use this bitumen to refine it into synthetic crude oil and other oils. The Alberta Oil Sands are run by major companies such as Suncor Energy. | In the Alberta Oil Sands, the dump trucks scoop up bitumen, or solid petroleum. Bitumen is about 83% sand, 4% water, 3% clay, and 10% bitumen. This mechanical mixture is sent to factories and other buildings to convert it into a cleaner type of fuel, such as gasoline and diesel. | bitumen | bitumen | Dump trucks scoop up the bitumen (solid petroleum) and ship in to manufacturing factories for further processing.
3: What is the Keystone XL Pipeline? | The Keystone XL Pipeline is a 1897km Pipeline that ships crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. This pipeline will ship millions of barrels of crude oil to American consumers everyday. The crude oil that is shipped over the border of Canada and the U.S. will be sent to refinery plants for more uses. This pipeline is run by TransCanada. | Hardisty, Alberta | Steele City, Nebraska | At the Keystone XL pipeline, workers ship out raw crude oil through a series of pipes. Crude oil is made of plankton and other tiny organisms millions of years ago. These form and are made as fossil fuels, which is below the Earth's crust. The crude oil runs through different communities before reaching Steele City.
4: RefiningThe Alberta Oil Sands-How it Works | The first process of the oil sands is by the extraction of the oil sands. Large dump trucks scoop out the oil sands and dump it into a crusher. The factories also use water to separate the different components of the oil sand. Next, factories use froth treatment and remove the excess water and clay particles of the bitumen. This bitumen is added with chemicals to make the water particles sink to the bottom. | Then, the oil sand is sent to an upgrading plant, which is making the bitumen into crude oil. The upgrading process changes the chemical formation of the bitumen. They are added with catalysts to speed up the process and remove other unwanted chemicals. Lastly, the clean oil is sent to a refinery, where it is made into other substances such as plastic.
5: In order to make separate crude oil from oil sands and pipelines, they must go through a fractional distillation column. In this machine, the crude oil is heated through a large hot furnace. This allows the bitumen to be very hot and evaporate into different substances as a gas. | In a fractional distillation column, the different substances are separated through different boiling points. The lower parts of the column are hotter, and the substances with hot boiling points are trapped in the bottom levels. The substances with the colder boiling point rise to the top of the tower and will be captured there. | RefiningThe Crude Oil Using Distillation-How it Works
6: The environmental impacts of oil sand refining | the short term effects of refining oil sands is that it can disrupt landscapes. Habitats of different animals are lost, which threaten the ecosystem. Another short term effect is that the oil sands are very smelly when they are refined. The bitumen has lots of hydrocarbons, which give off a stinky smell when they are removed. Not only does this smell threaten human life, it also threatens other ecosystems. lastly, the local climate could be threatened. Since the refining factories are creating lots of pollution, it could lead to acid rain, which damage local crops and plants.
7: the long term effects of refining oil sands is that the refining causes more pollution. It creates noise pollution from all the dump trucks that carry the oil sands, the super toxins they release when they refine the sand, and damage the local ecosystem with the tailings of the oil sands! When they create that much pollution, they release greenhouse gases into the air, making the earth warmer and the punching a hole through the ozone layer and the atmosphere. lastly, when there are no more oil sands left, the areas of Alberta will be depleted of all natural resources. | the oil sands affect people because the area was originally used for commuting of the people. it affects wildlife because it destroys habitats and ecosystems, causing entire species of animals to move to urban areas. the oil sands also affect the peoples' jobs. Since lots of jobs are being distributed at other oil sands factories, the other people working for the government may not get that much money anymore; they may not be able to support their families and children.
8: The environmental impacts of crude oil refining | the short term effects of refining crude oil is that it can cost lots of money. Although crude oil has an expensive value ($ 300 a barrel), it takes about that much money to maintain the machines that convert the crude oil into useful substances. Another short term effect of refining is that it disrupts landscapes, destroying ecosystems and killing species of animals. it also threatens the environment and people because they give off lots of gaseous smells when refined. This is because crude oil has some hydrocarbons but has many forms, making the air smell bad.
9: The crude oil refineries affect the people because they destroy ecosystems, so the animals must move to urban places. It also affects the peoples' jobs because other people are taking the jobs on this pipeline, leaving families with no resources to protect their kids in the future. Lastly, this refinery plant must have lots of experts to take it apart; there will be no one to take apart the refinery; it's too complex. | the long term effects of refining crude oil is that the refining causes more pollution. It creates noise pollution from all the noises of the machines in the refineries and release super toxins when they refine the sand When they create that much pollution, they release greenhouse gases into the air, making the earth warmer and the punching a hole through the ozone layer and the atmosphere. lastly, when there are no more crude left, the areas of Alberta will be depleted of all natural resources.
10: Safety of Refining Oil Sands | This method is relatively safe because the work is mostly ensured and cared for by experts. During the process, many scientists are constantly working around the clock to ensure that these technologies are operating perfectly, as well as developing new, cleaner technologies for the future. There are scientists who develop and perfect the process of extraction, froth treatment, upgrading, and refining. Lastly, there are different scientists who specialize in each process of the refining of the oil sands, from the bitumen to gasoline. | There are concerns about the disposing method of the excess sand, water, oil, clay, and chemicals. In oil sand refineries, they would pour these excess scraps of oil and sand into special containers. These are called tailings. Sometimes, these tailings can leak into the local groundwater system, poisoning the water supply and causing acid rain. The water used in the process also gets dirtier when its reused. However, water is always dirty; it can also leak into groundwater. Lastly, the chemicals must be stored safely; they cause a negative effect on the environment.
11: Safety of Refining Crude Oil | This method is usually safe because the workers have lots of precision and accuracy with their work. Maintaining the tower is very hard, the pressure must be accurate and the temperature of the fractions of the tower must be very precise. The workers handle the other processes very carefully, such as handling the crude oil after it reaches the end of the pipeline into the refinery plant. Lastly, there are constantly newer technologies that could be added into the plant to make it more efficient. | There are lots of concerns about disposing the crude oil. Some crude oil is not high-grade; the workers must store them in special tanks to keep them from heating elements. There are also concerns of oil spills in the pipeline or at the refinery plant. Although the workers take a good job of it, an oil spill could be devastating. It creates pollution, destroys ecosystems and local habitats, and even contributes to global warming. the oil must be handled very carefully; when it catches a heating element or sparks, it could instantly burst into flames.
12: Oil Spills (Crude Oil) | The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill On the midnight of March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker struck land on Prince William Sound, Alaska. 250 000 barrels of oil were spilled during this tragic incident. This oil caused the people of Prince William Sound to worry. Many species of ducks and geese have died. The water of Prince William Sound has been polluted with the chemicals from the oil. The land has also been polluted, since the water washed ashore. | The BP Oil Spill On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon, a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, started to leak. This oil leak on the extraction pipe lead to hundreds of thousands of liters of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico. About 1000 miles have been affected, 200 miles completely oiled. This disaster has caused lots of pollution in the water. This oil spill has also affected thousands of birds and some sea turtles. Over 600 sea turtles and 135 dolphins have died because of this. In the water, there is still a 4cm coat of oil floating above the water.
13: Oil Sand Tailings | The Suncor Tailing Accident Suncor has kept the communities away from a secret tailings ponds located downstream from the Mackenzie River. This tailings pond was kept secret, due to the fact there was an open tract of land near the refinery. There was a leak that happened in one of the tailings ponds in 2007 when it leaked downstream through groundwater to communities. This poisoned the water supply and destroyed the entire ecosystem. This also killed some animal species in the habitat of the Mackenzie River. | The Syncrude Duck Massacre Syncrude, a major oil company located in Alberta, is apologizing after the tragic "duck massacre" occurred in a Syncrude tailings pond. Syncrude has built this tailings pond in 1973, and there is lots of poison and oilo floating on the surface of the pond. A flock of ducks landed in this pond because it was a migrating route. The ducks were soaked in oil, and are poisoned. They also cannot breathe, since the oil hits their lungs and coats it. Among the over 500 ducks which landed in the tailings pond, at least 500 were dead.
14: Conclusion | In conclusion, refining crude oil and oil sands has both environmental problems and helpful issues. The oil sands process uses extraction, froth treatment, upgrading, then refining. Crude oil uses pipelines and a fractional distillation tower. These both provide energy for the world to use. However, there are environmental effects such as pollution and dirtiness. Refining the process is excellent, but it still needs work. We must find better, cleaner technologies that could replace this form of energy.
15: Biography | www.tarsandswatch.com/files/watercontamination www.gaurdian.co.uk/environment/2011 www.exxonmobil.com/valdez www.youtube.com (Alberta Oil Sands Video) | Publishing | Published by The Matthew Hau Book Company New York, New York Editors:Matthew Hau Copyright 2012 by the Matthew Hau Book Company. All rights reserved.