Don't overstate the case PD -- the 55 gallons of oil in a barrel may not heat for a year, but certainly a month is not unreasonable. Heck, even two weeks in a tough stretch of northeastern winter. You still end up with a net energy gain.
And the torn up landscape is a hoot. Once the heavy equipment goes away, an amazing thing happens to "torn up landscape". The plant fairies come in and put weeds, grasses, then bushes, and eventually trees in a process that I'm sure the Gorons out there would think of as the Gaia Goddess' magic.
There is an obvious net energy gain, and there should be no problem with it. The energy balance is something like 1 barrel of oil equivalent is needed to create 3 barrels from the tar sands... the real issue is the cost, and right now the costs are favorable:
"Undaunted, energy companies have ploughed billions of dollars into bringing down the cost of producing oil from tar sands. This has dropped from about $30 a barrel three decades ago to less than $12 a barrel at the latest facility, which was officially opened by Royal Dutch/Shell and its partners on June 19th, and joins plants run by Suncor and Syncrude, two Canadian firms whose businesses are built around the tar sands."
Syncrude's massive oil production facility is the largest single source of crude oil in Canada. It produces 13 percent of the country's annual oil requirements. Its Mildred Lake operation abuts a massive extraction and upgrade facility that is in the final stages of an $8 billion expansion that will add equipment the company says will help reduce stack emissions of sulfur by 60 percent from today's levels of 245 metric tons a day.
Just south of Syncrude's plant is the company's first mining site. It is now reclaimed -- rolling hills of grass and trees that support a herd of buffalo. The site includes a pond used for mine tailings.
Looking northwest, tailings ponds and reclaimed mine area southeast of the Syncrude plant. The land to the west of this site has been reclaimed to the point where it supports a herd of buffalo. Photo by Mary O'Driscoll.
Across Highway 63 is what appears to be a massive tidal flat with wet, light-brown sand that Syncrude spokesman Allan Reich said is another mine site in the process of being reclaimed. Officials said that it would take 12 to 15 years to turn the site into rolling, grass-covered hills.
"It's our obligation to return the land to its equivalent capability," Reich said.
Oil is sold in barrels (42 gal/bbl). A drum is 55 gallons.
the 55 gallons of oil in a barrel may not heat for a year
For the record a "barrel" of oil is not 55 gallons, I believe it is 32 gallons.