Canada's Industry FAQ

Why are the oil sands so important the industry? What's happening across Canada? Find the answers to the most frequently asked questions.

What are the oil sands?

Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen. Bitumen is simply oil that is too thick to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated. Canada’s oil sands are found in three deposits – the Athabasca, Peace River and Cold Lake areas in Alberta and part of Saskatchewan. The greatest quantity is found in the Athabasca deposit.

Why are the oil sands so important to the industry?

Canada’s energy future lies in the oil sands. Our country possesses approximately 171 billion barrels of oil that can be recovered with today’s technology. Of that number, 165 billion barrels are located in the oil sands.

What are the main issues related to oil sands development?

We understand that Canadians are concerned about oil sands development, and expect that our industry will manage the resource responsibly. The oil sands have generated much public debate, and with that, some misinformation. It's important to separate fact from fiction, to ensure we all know and understand the truth about oil sands development. There are a number of environmental issues in the oil sands, all of which require a commitment to technology and innovation to overcome.

What is natural gas?

Natural gas is a form of energy that most Canadians use daily to heat their homes. It is also often used for household appliances, climate control systems and some vehicles, such as those that run on propane. There is a wide variety of natural gas types, with various types in different formations across the country. British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories all have significant natural gas resources.

What is our oil resource?

We all use oil in our day-to-day lives. Oil can be mined or pumped to the surface using various extraction techniques. From there, it is transported through pipelines to refineries where it is upgraded into products like the gasoline we fill our cars with, jet fuel as well as heating oil. Other by-products of crude oil include: clothing from synthetic fabrics, circuit boards, carpeting, deodorant, shampoo, electrical insulation, toothpaste, pill capsules and pharmaceuticals.