Team:Cornell/project/background/oil extraction


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How is oil extracted from Oil Sands?

Oil Extraction

Unlike traditional crude oil production, oil sands are first extracted using surface mining which transports the sands to sites where the sand is crushed, mixed with water, and sent via pipeline to a separating facility. There sand is settled out and a bitumen slurry sent via pipeline to an upgrading facility. At the upgrading facility, bitumen is further separated by centrifuging the slurry mixed again with water and naptha diluent. In the final stage of extraction, the bitumen is sent to a coker where it is heated, releasing hydrocarbon gas, and naptha. Such a water and mechanically heavy process present unique environmental challenges.

Tar Sands Upgrader In Winter. Alberta Tar Sands 2010
Credit: None


1. Tenenbaum, David J. “Oil Sands Development: A Health Risk Worth Taking?” (2009). Environmental Health Persepctives. 117(4): A150-156.

2. Weinhoki, Bob. “Alberta’s Oil Sands- Hard Evidence, Missing Data, New Promises.” (2011). Environmental Health Perspectives. 119(3): A126-131.