R&D in the oil sands

Getting a barrel of oil out of the Alberta oil sands takes roughly a barrel of water, and southern Alberta’s already getting dry. Now, along comes this:

[quote=“CBC: U.S. urges ‘fivefold expansion’ in Alberta oilsands production”]The U.S. wants Canada to dramatically expand its oil exports from the Alberta oilsands, a move that could have major implications on the environment.

U.S.and Canadian oil executives and government officials met for a two-day oil summit in Houston in January 2006 and made plans for a “fivefold expansion” in oilsands production in a relatively “short time span,” according minutes of the meeting obtained by the CBC’s French-language network, Radio-Canada.

The meeting was organized by Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Canada is already the top exporter of oil to the American market, exporting the equivalent of one million barrels a day — the exact amount that the oilsands industry in Alberta currently produces.

A fivefold increase would mean the exportation of five million barrels a day, which would supply a quarter of current American consumption and add up to almost half of all U.S. imports.[/quote]
There’s even been serious discussions of building a dedicated nuke simply to power extraction.

So, anyone have have any bright ideas about companies cooking up smart means of getting more oil with less water?

can’t they just use saltwater?

In Alberta? That’d be something.

Perhaps putting in a pipeline from somewhere with salt water?

Over the Rockies? No way. I suppose they could twin the pipeline down from Alaska, but even flowing salt water freezes after traveling that distance in constant -20C (and below) temperatures.

The oilsands are in the very northern part of Alberta and Saskatchewan - an area with an extremely low population and lots and lots of lakes. Saskatchewan alone is about 16 times bigger than Taiwan, with a population of 1 million; the vast majority of these people live in the south. Frankly, I think worries about pollution are overstated.