The Oil Drum explains in a two-part series why trying to extract oil from tar sands is a desperation ploy by the heavily addicted. It’s expensive, an environmental nightmare, and barely returns more energy than it takes to get it.
What we have here is arguably the most environmentally destructive activity man has ever attempted, with a compliant government, insatiable demand and an endless supply of capital turning it into “a speeding car with a gas pedal and no brakes.” It sucks down critical and rapidly diminishing amounts of both natural gas and water, paying neither for its consumption of natural capital nor its environmental destruction, to the utter detriment of its host. And all to eke out maybe a 10% profit, if it turns out that the books haven’t been cooked, and if the taxation structure remains a flat-out giveaway.
All of that, just to produce enough oil to offset the declining conventional oil production in the rest of Canada. Maybe.