Geology of the Athabasca Oil Sands

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Science  11 Jan 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4427, pp. 145-152
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4427.145


In-place bitumen resources in the Alberta oil sands are estimated at 1350 billion barrels. Open-pit mining and hot water extraction methods, which involve the handling of huge tonnages of earth materials, are being employed in the two commercial plants now operating. In situ recovery methods will be required to tap the 90 percent of reserves that are too deeply buried to be surface mined. Development of in situ technologies will be painstaking and expensive, and success will hinge on their compatibility with extremely complex geological conditions in the subsurface.