I might as well be honest, neither of these are something I would support and I thing we should not persue them rather we should be getting off oil as fast as possible. Now let my explain why I am not a fan of either of these unconventional forms of energy, oil.
Here is a partial list of some of the more glaring reasons why we should stop extracting oil from tar sands:
- Strip mining leaves the land destroyed for many lifetimes in the future.
- It uses millions of gallons of fresh water that is left polluted forever.
- It disrupts wildlife habitat for thousands of miles around, both in migration and in taking away their home by destroying it.
- It leaves huge, I mean so large you could not walk around, sometimes for miles very large waste ponds that poison the ground water and soil for a very, very long time.
- Any doubts about what I’ve said take a look at areal photographs of these ponds and the mining operation and it will become glaringly obvious to yourself the need to stop such nearly devastation to supply you with oil.
- The EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) is a good measure as to how financially viable it is going after any source of energy or will it actually take more input than it gives back. As for Tar Sands the EROEI is only 1.5:1 or one-half more than what is input. To say this another way, if you get 15 barrels out you spent 10 barrels getting it. There is one flaw with this, it doesn’t take into account the millions of gallons of water that are poisoned, the land destruction, the huge amounts of pollution create and takes to mine as well as process the sand into an oil that can be refined.
Tar Sands is an overall energy loss no matter how you look at it, because two other crucial figures are left out, transportation and refining it which then takes the energy return into the negative. There you have it.
Why go after Tar Sands? It’s a last ditch effort with the help of huge subsides to keep it going and to damn with all the environmental protection laws and regulations. The U.S. is a huge importer of this oil from Canada. This impost of oil is a cover for the fact we are running out of oil.
Some people online and in papers they have published claim the EROEI is much higher, as high as 4 or 4.5 for Tar Sands. They are only using deceptive manipulation of the numbers to raise the energy output by ignoring many of things I have mentioned already. Below I will post a link to photographs of the Tar Sands so you can see the total devestation that has been caused to keep you supplied (in the U.S. namely) with oil, gasoline, diesel and plastics (along with the millions of other products made from oil).
My advice, get off oil as fast as possible and shut down the mining of Tar Sands today!
Shale (the rock that burns)
The EROEI is even worse for Shale than for Tar Sands. You can literally superimpose the reasons for Tar Sands onto Shale. Huge mountains are turned into rubble in the process expending a large amount of energy to get nothing in return. Let me go into a bit more detail and EROEI for Shale to oil and natural gas.
The amount of energy it takes to mine, crush, process, ship, refine Shale leaves it with no more energy than a baked potato. Including the millions of gallons of fresh water left poisoned and the environmental devastation involved which leaves the amount of energy in Shale far worse than Tar Sands, in the negative numbers.
Here in Colorado where I live several mines were abandoned after several years because without huge subsides, tax dollars given to the companies they were never profitable to mine and process shale into oil. Both Chevron and ExxonMobile gave up leaving the mines as huge scares on the land.
The gas production from Shale is hard to estimate as we have no idea what it actually costs to get at the gas as it is a secret Haliburton is keeping. Here is what is involved: Fracking is a method of injecting under high pressure and high temperature water and a chemical soup Haliburton claims is proprietary leaving the ground water and surrounding land poisoned. First, several wells are drilled into the Shale deposit. Then huge trucks are brought in with the chemicals and water if it is not available in huge quantities on the surface or by drilling. Both are heated and pumped underground to fracture the Shale and it is this fracturing which releases the gas. If the area sees a decline in gas production then the process is repeated with more clean water mixed with the chemical soup to further fracture the Shale.
People who live in the area where Fracking have found their well water becomes mixed with the gas causing it to burn. Also, the chemical soup leaves the water poisoned and undrinkable unless a person wants to commit suicide. natural gas is sometimes even found to bubble up from the ground which adds methane a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. Haliburton has so far claimed no responsibility yet everywhere they have done this process the same results have occurred in thousands of wells.
With huge energy inputs to extract gas leaves me to conclude the EROEI is very low or in the negative. It is nothing more than a last ditch effort to hide the truth from people, we are running out of Natural Gas rapidly!
I suggest people find every which way to reduce your dependence on oil and gas as quickly as possible. Some practical tips: insulate your home to greatly reduce your energy consumption. For people who have some land, not within cities as restrictions would be greater, build an underground methane digester to produce enough methane for all your cooking needs cleaning and storing any extra for colder months. If it is at all possible build or convert your fireplace to a what is called a Masonry Stove in the U.S. or Kachelofen in Europe. It uses less wood or other materials and provides more heat to the home. Park your car or get rid of it and use public transportation or bicycle. Walking won’t hurt you either. Buy organic food and natural fiber clothing or as little petroleum fiber clothing as possible. Grow as much of your own food as possible, even apartment dwellers can do this it just takes ingenuity and a will.
The ideas are by no mean comprehensive but at least it gives you options that take you beyond oil and gas. The more you do the less you use which helps. Encourage friends and family to join you. Make these types of operations more expensive by not using as much as you presently do to the point where they have to shut down because they can no longer make a profit. Become energy independent, decentralize energy production and distribution are the only way to rid ourselves of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Pictures of the Tar Sands: