Oil Sands

Oil SandsWhat are the oil sands?

Oil sands are a mixture of sand, water, clay and bitumen.

Bitumen is oil that is too heavy or thick to flow or be pumped without being diluted or heated - at 11 degrees Celsius bitumen is as hard as a hockey puck.

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.

The oil sands are sometimes called tar sands.


North America runs on oil, coal, and natural gas. Although a larger share of our needs will be met through increased use of hydro-electricity, wind, solar, nuclear, and other forms of renewable and alternative energy, fossil fuels will continue to play an important role in our nation's energy mix in the foreseeable future.

Securing that future means finding a secure supply. And one growing solution is the natural bitumen deposits that make up Canada's oil sands.


When most Canadians think of oil sands, they think of Alberta. After all, Alberta holds the lion's share of Canada's oil sands. Yet the benefits of this vast resource of buried bitumen extend well beyond Alberta's borders - and well into the future.

Today, every dollar invested in the oil sands creates about $8 in economic activity, with much of that economic value generated outside Alberta - in Canada, the U.S., and around the world.

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