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Exploration of Oil Sands in USA may be not Easy

by hahahaha

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The United States’ largest source of oil imports is not the Middle East, but rather Canada: The Athabasca oil sands underlying a huge swath of northern Alberta, containing perhaps 175 billion barrels of oil, have been a steady-and controversial-source of liquid fuel. Extracting it is a dirty business, and a recent plan to escalate development by building a pipeline through the Midwest inspired thousands of people to throng the White House. But while Canada is home to most of the world’s oil sands, the United States can claim an area rich in oil sands, too. A small Calgary-based company, U.S. Oil Sands, wants to extract the oil from sands found in Eastern Utah.

Oil sand, also called tar sand, is a mixture of sand, clay, water, and a hydrocarbon called bitumen. Think of sand in a sandbox infused with thick tar. In Alberta, mining the oil sands involves huge open-pit mines in the middle of Canada’s boreal forest. There, some of the world’s largest power shovels and dump trucks excavate and transport the sands to extraction plants, facilities that use steam, soda, and water to begin removing the sand from the tar. Later, the bitumen is treated with a hydrocarbon solvent called naphtha, which takes out the remaining minerals. Mining oil sands accounts for more than 31 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta; it requires 2 tons of sand and up to 10 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil.

Instead of a caustic chemical, the company plans to use a citrus-based biodegradable solvent to help separate the oil from the sand. This proprietary process would use half the water required for Alberta’s oil sands, Todd says. The solvent, he says, is nontoxic and would be reused and recycled. So far, U.S. Oil Sands has drilled about 180 test wells at a mine north of Arches National Park, called PR Spring. Pending approval from Utah state environmental regulators, Todd expects to begin producing oil at PR Spring by 2013, producing 50,000 barrels of oil per day for the first 10 years of the mine’s operation.jaw crusher:
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Companies have been trying to tap into Utah’s deposits for decades, according to a 2008 University of Utah report on the history of the state’s tar sands mining by hammer crusher. The city of Vernal in northeast Utah paved its streets with tar sands as early as 1924, and companies opened small-scale oil sands mines throughout the area up through the 1970s, when Texaco, Shell, and Phillips Petroleum began exploration there. But those projects ended with the 1980s oil bust. Several other companies tried again, and failed, in the late 1990s.

Even if U.S. Oil Sands get the go-ahead to drill, extracting Utah’s oil sands while still turning a profit will be difficult even with the application of ore beneficiation machines. 'The thickness of the bitumen-bearing layers isn’t so great,' says the University of Utah’s Spinti. Plus, the oil sands are remote: Gaining access to an oil pipeline to pipe the crude to a refinery won’t be easy.

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