Troubled Waters, Troubling TrendsTechnology and policy options to reduce water use in oil and oil sands development in Alberta
Oilsands mining operations in Alberta use large volumes of water from the Athabasca River. Steam injection to produce oil from bitumen that is too deep to mine (in situ production) uses increasing amounts of surface water and groundwater. Production of bitumen is expected to triple by 2020, resulting in more water withdrawals, declining wetlands and expanding tailings ponds. Most companies recycle water, so new technology and policies outlined in the report are needed to reduce water use. Alberta's Water Conservation and Allocation Policy for Oilfield Injection, which applies to conventional and thermal enhanced oil recovery, must be strictly implemented.