Editorial Comment ///

In the unfortunate argument about peak oil supply, what constitutes “oil” is usually poorly defined. Canada’s vast bitumen deposits, mostly located in northern Alberta, offer insight into the difficulty of determining what oil is, defining proved reserves, and peak production. There is little agreement on how this bitumen should be classified. Many folks do it the way World Oil does: with explanations and footnotes. One of our reasons for not classifying bitumen the same as conventional proved reserves is the fact that it presently relies on large amounts of natural gas and water for extraction and processing, as well as future solutions to growing environmental problems. Should gas or environmental problems become too costly, the 174 billion barrels of Canadian bitumen would become much more expensive to recover using present technology. It would take 476 years at today’s production rate of 1 million barrels a day to produce the claimed reserves.

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