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Canada could have an answer to U.S. oil woes
Globe and Mail Update ^ | Friday, September 28 | MATHEW INGRAM

Posted on 09/30/2001 5:36:15 PM PDT by aculeus

Why does the United States have to tiptoe so carefully in the Middle East, trying to play one country off against another, careful not to upset certain countries? Why does it even have to get involved in Middle Eastern politics in the first place? One word: Oil. Without the supply of oil that countries such as Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others produce, the United States would be in deep trouble. And so, the U.S. government repeatedly finds itself drawn into a volatile morass of shifting allegiances.

Is there any long-term solution? Environmental activists have recommended for some time that the United States pour billions into alternative energy such as wind power, biomass and fuel cells - but there is no way these technologies could handle a fraction of the current demand for energy from fossil fuels, let alone the growth projected for the coming decades. But where else could the U.S. come up with the oil to satisfy its needs?

The U.S. government itself mentioned one possible solution in Vice-President Dick Cheney's recent energy report: Alberta's oil sands, a vast ocean of tar-like goo in the northern part of the province. By most estimates, there is more oil in the so-called "tar sands" than there is in all of Saudi Arabia, or about 300 billion barrels that is recoverable using existing technology. That's enough to supply the United States for more than 40 years — plus there's another 1.5 trillion to two trillion barrels on top of that, which would be harder to extract. That's 10 times what Saudi Arabia has.

Alberta's potential was obvious even before Sept. 11, and those attacks have now added even more fuel to the argument. What if Iraq turns out to be involved in planning the attacks? Even worse, what if Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden decides to turn his wrath against the Saudi royal family, whom he despises for allowing U.S. troops to be stationed in the traditional birthplace of Islam? Saudi Arabia has about one quarter of the world's reserves of conventional oil, and last year it supplied the U.S. with 1.5 million barrels a day, or about 17 per cent of U.S. demand. Almost one-quarter of U.S. demand for oil is supplied by countries in the Persian Gulf.

One of the reasons why the oil sands haven't played a larger role on the public policy stage is that until fairly recently, getting oil out of the ground in northern Alberta was time-consuming and expensive. Until the mid-1990s, producing a barrel of oil cost upwards of $15 (U.S.). That didn't leave much room for things like profits when the price of oil was at $20 — and it seemed especially ridiculous given that some OPEC countries can produce a barrel of oil for about $5 or less.

Then Suncor Energy, thanks to prodding by vice-president Dee Parkinson, cut a huge chunk out of its costs starting in 1995 by moving from the balky and expensive bucketwheels it had been using to giant shovels and trucks. Suncor and Syncrude (which copied the move) have cut their costs to $9 a barrel — and that success, combined with the runup in oil prices over the past couple of years, has spurred dozens of imitators to look at oil-sands projects. Conoco, Exxon-Mobil, Shell and other companies both in the United States and elsewhere have done feasibility studies, and more than $20-billion worth of potential oil sands projects are in the planning stages.

There are also dozens of projects aimed at exploring ways of extracting some of the harder-to-reach oil. The current method is not very different from the Clark hot-water process, which was discovered in the 1920s — and that itself was a refinement of the way early explorers boiled the gooey substance in water over the campfire to produce a tar they could patch their canoes with. Newer methods for extracting the oil involve things such as "steam-assisted gravity drainage," which involves injecting steam into the sand and then forcing the oil to drain out for refining.

In the 1930s, the U.S. government and several business leaders (including Henry Ford) reportedly looked into extracting oil from Alberta to help meet the growing demand in the United States. But then oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, and the seeds of OPEC and the energy dominance of the Middle East were sown — something the United States may want to reconsider in the light of current events. And then maybe Canada could take the place of Saudi Arabia in the American universe.


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1 posted on 09/30/2001 5:36:15 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: Alberta's Child
FYI....I'll wager you can enlighten us all about this proposal.
2 posted on 09/30/2001 5:47:17 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: aculeus
the Canadians also have a way of separating oil electrostatically now that allows you to take out oil from "dry" wells, and return soil to the ground that you can plant in. The oil is almost as pure as that pumped out of the ground by standard means. They have prototypes running, but have met a lot of resistance from American oil companies. As soon as our environmental laws catch up, they hope to license the technique to smaller oil producers in this country. They estimate enough oil left in already drilled and abandoned wells to last long into the future.
3 posted on 09/30/2001 5:51:15 PM PDT by TheLurkerX
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To: aculeus
Sounds good to me! But out of the communes would rush the "Canadian Capers" (Canadians Against Pollution , Energy and Rightist Swindlers).

Leni

4 posted on 09/30/2001 5:56:56 PM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: JulieRNR21
It's an old old story. Got several billion dollars in spare change? Then you can convert oil sands to oil.

We have similar deposits in the USA. Oil in great quantity but locked into clay or sand and difficult to extract.

5 posted on 09/30/2001 5:57:42 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: aculeus
We should have stop their bomb building years ago. Iran and Iraq are too close to big bombs.
6 posted on 09/30/2001 5:59:26 PM PDT by bmwcyle
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To: aculeus
That's what the electrostatic method is supposed to extract relatively easily. The way I understand it though, they are prevented from setting up production with it in this country by the current environmental laws. I'll see if I can find the story I read about it a couple of months ago.
7 posted on 09/30/2001 6:00:30 PM PDT by TheLurkerX
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To: TheLurkerX
It is time, in fact well past time, to squelch the criminal enterprise democrats and make this nation oil self-sufficient. Combine that with focus of our science on becoming energy self-sufficient as the oil reserves decline and we will have removed one of the biggest obstacles to thumbing our nose at self absorbed oil sheiks and their lies and secret terrorist support. I would like to ask fools like Leahy and Daschle what damn good environmental relativism will be when this nation ceases to function as a global power because of being dictated to by the Middle Eastern oil bullies and OPEC socialism? They wouldn't answer of course.
8 posted on 09/30/2001 6:02:48 PM PDT by MHGinTN
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To: aculeus
Unfortunately Canada also has something else. Something that Saudi Arabia doesn't have: evironmentalists. An even more radical and fervent (though perhaps less violent) crowd than the US. And the violence deficiency would be quickly made up by the radical WTO "flying terrorist columns".
That means your costs of extraction have to include both the massive, burdensome, and mostly counter-productive regulations that the Greens will force the legislature to pass, but also the costs of eco-terrorism and "protests". Blocked trucks, sabotaged equipment, month-long "sit-ins" (like they do in the trees to stop lumbering), and blown-up pipelines (the damage then blamed on you for your "lax security"), are only the beginnings. Add lawsuits by every left-leaning American lawyer seeking to make a name for himself (we have over half the worlds supply of lawyers).
I would dearly love to see Canada develope it's energy reserves, but I fear the enviros have that stopped before it's begun. Good luck, though! You have my best wishes!
9 posted on 09/30/2001 6:05:37 PM PDT by Capt Phoenix
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To: aculeus
Looks like an idea whose time has come! Thanks for this informative post.
10 posted on 09/30/2001 6:08:47 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: aculeus
There are no "comparable deposits" in the United States to Alberta's vast resources of tar sands. The closest thing are low grade coal deposits in the Dakotas and Montana and oil shale deposits on the eastern rim of the Rockies. Extraction technologies for both are far higher than for tar sands.

The one-two punch of developing tar sand extraction and fuel cell technology could give a knock-blow to the oil dictators of the world. So could military seizure of most strategic oil fields, which tend to be located in limited areas around the Gulf.

11 posted on 09/30/2001 6:09:16 PM PDT by Vigilanteman
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To: Capt Phoenix
"Unfortunately Canada also has something else. Something that Saudi Arabia doesn't have: evironmentalists."

You're right about the environmentalists, BUT I don't think Alberta has quite as many....they've seen CAPITALISM and HOW IT WORKS!!!!!! (And, I would bet they are the most self sufficient of all of Canada's provinces.)

12 posted on 09/30/2001 6:12:37 PM PDT by goodnesswins
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To: aculeus
"And then maybe Canada could take the place of Saudi Arabia in the American universe. "

This could be a whole new nightmare.;^)

13 posted on 09/30/2001 6:27:13 PM PDT by Kermit
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To: aculeus
OH NO!!! Does this mean the Canadians are going to start wearing towels around their heads and yelling, "DEATH TO AMERICA!!!!"??
14 posted on 09/30/2001 6:40:07 PM PDT by manx
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To: aculeus
Until the mid-1990s, producing a barrel of oil cost upwards of $15 (U.S.). That didn't leave much room for things like profits when the price of oil was at $20 — and it seemed especially ridiculous given that some OPEC countries can produce a barrel of oil for about $5 or less.

Profit over principle and peace is why big oil still hasn't told Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the rest to pound sand.

15 posted on 09/30/2001 6:41:11 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: manx
OH NO!!! Does this mean the Canadians are going to start wearing towels around their heads and yelling, "DEATH TO AMERICA!!!!"??

Many of them already do.

(We'll actually no, they haven't yet put on the towels. But they're getting them ready.)

16 posted on 09/30/2001 6:45:36 PM PDT by Nogbad
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To: aculeus
We should give ANWR to another country. Then we wouldn't feel so guilty about taking oil from it =)
17 posted on 09/30/2001 6:47:27 PM PDT by xm177e2
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To: aculeus
FYI:

BDK: Chemistry 207: Tar sands

18 posted on 09/30/2001 6:48:22 PM PDT by Clive
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To: xm177e2
Cute! Another idea is while we are disposing of Saddam, we should take his oil fields and occupy Basra. This would fly with the PC clowns, as we would be doing this for two reasons:
A.) To guaranty a stable oil supply to the West B.) To exact "repararations" from a terrorist harboring state. (Reparations are chic now)
With the Iraqi oil fields we would get all the $5.oo/bbl oil we need for our domestic production and still sell it "Cheaply" to the EU, Japan, etc for a tidy profit to help pay for all our losses caused by 30 years of terrorist attacks, and some punitive damages as well. When we are satisfied that the damages have been satisfied, we can give them back their oil fields, if there is any oil left they can go back to their miserable lives.
19 posted on 09/30/2001 7:02:48 PM PDT by CSSAlabama
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To: aculeus
Interesting
20 posted on 09/30/2001 7:07:15 PM PDT by Free the USA
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To: Vigilanteman
My nephew is a Chemical Engineer employed at the Dakota Coal Gasification plant in Beulah North Dakota. They produce nautral gas from lighnite (soft) coal and are also selling CO2 to Canada for tertiary oil recovery and Ammonia to fertilizer manufacturers.

In the early 80s the development of alternative energy sources was stymied by OPEC. Once they realized that their artificially high oil prices would stimulate alternative energy sources they lowered their price. Wind mills, coal gasification and other technologies were put on the shelf. Let's hope that VP Cheney can develope a comprehensive energy policy. Then we can tell OPEC what to do with their oil.

You know, the Athabaska Tars in Canada are a tremendous source of crude as are the Orinoco Tars of Venezuela. With a concerted industrial program for this hemisphere we could reshape the world, industrialize our neighbors to the south and solve a multitude of problems that confront us.

21 posted on 09/30/2001 7:08:25 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: CSSAlabama
If we "kick their ass and take their gas," as the slogan goes, I think we'd have to spend the oil profits entirely on human rights work and nation building in the Middle East and Africa.

We aren't IMPERIALISTS anymore ;)

22 posted on 09/30/2001 7:17:06 PM PDT by xm177e2
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To: aculeus
At current levels of use, we have an estimated 1,000 year supply of NATURAL GAS in the Gulf of Mexico ALONE.

Converting a gasoline engine to Liquified Natural Gas is a relatively inexpensive process.

LNG burns more cleanly than gasoline.

Why haven't we converted to LNG?

Start asking questions about that of your congresscritter and any oil company exec you can corner.

23 posted on 09/30/2001 7:17:44 PM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: aculeus
If it was economic to extract the oil from Canada, the market would do so. We wouldn't need a bunch of loser policy geeks to "decide" that we should get the oil.

Besides, why use up our oil now, I say lets use the arabs, and we'll use ours when they run out.

24 posted on 09/30/2001 7:22:15 PM PDT by Rodney King
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To: Vigilanteman
My nephew is a Chemical Engineer employed at the Dakota Coal Gasification plant in Beulah North Dakota. They produce nautral gas from lighnite (soft) coal and are also selling CO2 to Canada for tertiary oil recovery and Ammonia to fertilizer manufacturers.

In the early 80s the development of alternative energy sources was stymied by OPEC. Once they realized that their artificially high oil prices would stimulate alternative energy sources they lowered their price. Wind mills, coal gasification and other technologies were put on the shelf. Let's hope that VP Cheney can develope a comprehensive energy policy. Then we can tell OPEC what to do with their oil.

You know, the Athabaska Tars in Canada are a tremendous source of crude as are the Orinoco Tars of Venezuela. With a concerted industrial program for this hemisphere we could reshape the world, industrialize our neighbors to the south and solve a multitude of problems that confront us.

25 posted on 09/30/2001 7:30:28 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: Rodney King
If it was economic to extract the oil from Canada, the market would do so.

The "economics" are based on Islam's need for your money. Right now they need a lot of your money. It is comforting to them that you are in full support of their "economics".

We wouldn't need a bunch of loser policy geeks to "decide" that we should get the oil. Besides, why use up our oil now, I say lets use the arabs, and we'll use ours when they run

The "loser policy geeks" are the ones that in the 1980's decided it was OK to undo the policy of stemming the money being hemorrhaged to Islam in return for "cheap" oil. Big oil concurred. Lefty Econ profs wearing sandals and tie dyed tee shirts concurred. It was a real love fest.

You are in good company. The next time you fill up your tank so you can burn it up in a traffic jam going to work, think about how much you just contributed to the Iranian and Pakistani atomic bomb programs.

26 posted on 09/30/2001 7:37:10 PM PDT by Hamiltonian
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To: xm177e2
Maybe so, but not until we covered the cost of rebuilding the WTC & Penatagon, the USS Cole, the emabassies, a "reasonable" amount of compensation to the families, punitive damages to cover the added costs of security and the disruption of our way of life. Maybe some for the stock losses and unemployment caused as well. Then maybe we could think of a Marshall Plan.
27 posted on 09/30/2001 7:41:31 PM PDT by CSSAlabama
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To: Hamiltonian
Uh, sorry, no. The reason why we buy oil from the middle east is because it is cheaper. Do you really think that Texaco would forgo the opportunity to buy cheaper oil in canada in order to undercut exxon/mobil at the bump and gain bigger market shere if they could?

You can bitch about it all you want, but the reason why we buy oil from the middle east is that it is cheaper. When it is cheaper to buy the oil from canada, either because we can extract it more cheaply, or because the price of M.E. oil has gone up, then we will do so.

28 posted on 09/30/2001 7:42:29 PM PDT by Rodney King
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To: aculeus
and it seemed especially ridiculous given that some OPEC countries can produce a barrel of oil for about $5 or less.

US crude oil consumption is about 20 million barrels a day or 7.3 billion barrels per year. I would estimate that DoD spending to ensure its flow exceeds $10 / barrel or $73 B per year. So if military costs are figured in, Alberta tar sands would seem to be cheaper that Middle Eastern oil.

29 posted on 09/30/2001 7:44:03 PM PDT by Lessismore
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To: aculeus
Plenty of oil in lower 48 plus offshore anyway. Bullsh-t is the main thing stopping it. This "energy runnng out" crapola has got to stop. All P.C. B. S. PHD.
30 posted on 09/30/2001 7:44:15 PM PDT by Waco
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To: Rodney King
Hey Rodney,heard you got picked up on a drug charge in Pomona...but I do agree with your assessment. Plus I like the idea of using up the camel jockey's oil first before we start using our own.
31 posted on 09/30/2001 8:05:37 PM PDT by HEFFERNAN2
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Comment #32 Removed by Moderator

To: Young Werther
There are decades of energy locked up in the coals of North Dakota alone. Have you ever seen the operation at Buelah? I understand it is a cracker-jack job. One of the few long lasting contributions of North Dakota's last Republican in Washington (RINO Mark Andrews) was passing the enabling legislation for that plant during the last energy crisis.

The eco-freaks fought it tooth and nail, one of whom (thankfully) was soundly defeated in her run for governor.

Some of the most rock-ribbed patriots you'll find are in those central North Dakota counties. I think even Pat Buchanan came close to double digit support in some of those areas.

The people there want to make a living off their land. The eco-freaks want to move them off and turn it into a giant buffalo and duck preserve. Some of the nastiest confrontations in the country have taken place in this area.

A good share of the settlers of these counties were Germans evicted by Russians from the Ukraine after they were invited to settle it in the 1820's, made it productive by the 1880's and then were driven off their land.

33 posted on 09/30/2001 8:10:23 PM PDT by Vigilanteman
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To: Vigilanteman
For what it's worth I have heard or read that there is a huge deposit of oil below the one that has and is being pumped in the L.A. Basin especially the Long Beach area. It is common to see oil wells in the backyards of homes in Orange County. Anyone else heard of this field? A large part of Southern and Ca. and the Bakersfield area have alot of oil. I believe the environmental weenies prevent it being pumped.
34 posted on 09/30/2001 8:21:19 PM PDT by willyone
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To: CSSAlabama
Of course.
35 posted on 09/30/2001 8:24:16 PM PDT by xm177e2
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To: Dick Bachert
Obviously those supplies haven't been tapped yet for some reason, or the price of natural gas wouldn't have gone sky high last winter.
36 posted on 09/30/2001 8:27:47 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Dick Bachert
Here is another simple idea that would help. Go to a four day work week. Ten hour days with one day a week with no commuter traffic. Within a month the price of crude would drop five bucks and gasoline twenty cents. And with all the fun being made of alternative generators even with the half assed approach that was used ten percent of Ca's. power came from those sources.
37 posted on 09/30/2001 8:28:28 PM PDT by willyone
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: Hamiltonian
I would like to add to your comments that the same thing is done by all those who hire illegal aliens because they work cheap. They may work cheap but the total cost of them being here is staggering. The ten bucks you save will end up costing you a hundred.
39 posted on 09/30/2001 8:32:19 PM PDT by willyone
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To: MinuteGal
(Canadians Against Pollution , Energy and Rightist Swindlers).

LOL, And you don't have any such folks.........??

40 posted on 09/30/2001 8:32:20 PM PDT by Great Dane
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To: aculeus
We have similar deposits in the USA. Oil in great quantity but locked into clay or sand and difficult to extract.

It's been done in Alberta for decades, granted it isn't as cost effective as pumping it out of a well.

41 posted on 09/30/2001 8:34:51 PM PDT by Great Dane
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To: Rodney King
You're pretty ignorant, aren't you. I guarantee you that the U.S. buys as much oil from Canada as from Saudi Arabia right now, if not more. Also the oil sands are producing big-time right now. This is not some pie in the sky technology. Syncrude and Suncor are each producing around 200,000 barrels per day, with huge expansions under way. Oil sands as a whole will produce 2,000,000 barrels per day in the next 5-10 years. Lots of U.S. involvment - Conoco, Shell, etc. I am truly amazed the their is so liitle information about this in the U.S.
42 posted on 09/30/2001 8:36:56 PM PDT by mosby
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To: Young Werther
One of the few good things Jimmy Carter did was to start the 'Synthetic Fuels' program, where we were devloping new technology to produce fuel from the very extensive coal, oil shale, and tar sands deposits in this country. These deposits are the equivalent to about 300+ years of domestic oil consumption.

In the early 80's, I was involved with several of them, in Wyoming, Colorado, California, though not the one in Buela Montana, which apparently was the only one to survive. The alberta tar sands have been working for 20+ years and they keep improving the processing processes.

One of the bad things Regan did was to stop this experimental program, as if he had left it going, we would now have an economically viable production process.

Remember that Hitler had a viable process, and as Germany had no oil fields, all their fuel came from coal.

43 posted on 09/30/2001 8:47:40 PM PDT by XBob
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To: XBob; Young Werther
Another big factor in the early 1980's . . . .. Reagan's plan to bankrupt the Soviet Union.

Reagan knew that the Soviet Union was making big bucks from sale of oil, but its costs were fairly high compared to Arab oil. By promising military aid to Saudia Arabia, and quiet negotiations, the price of oil plummeted from $30/barrel to about $10/barrel. The Soviet oil cost about $18/barrel to produce . . . so suddenly what was helping to finance their expansionist policies became a drain.

So at $30/barrel, the Arabs AND the Soviet Union benefitted, but with the Saudi's pumping excess oil out, and pricing dropped to $10/barrel . . .. the profits of everyone dropped . . . and it helped the U.S. economy recover from the Carter years . . .. and it helped bankrupt the Soviet Union.

All in all ..... a great deal!!

For those thinking that we helped to finance the Pakistani bomb . .. remember that the PROFIT levels went DOWN with the drop in prices.

The info from above came from a book about how R.Reagan set out to help push the Soviet Union into collapse.

Mike

44 posted on 09/30/2001 9:15:31 PM PDT by Vineyard
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To: JulieRNR21
The tar sands region near Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta has the potential to provide several centuries worth of oil for North America (at current consumption levels, of course). However, there are a couple of things that should be noted as far as the economics of the oil sands extraction process is concerned.

1. The quality of raw oil from these tar sands is very poor, so it is necessary to refine this oil extensively before it can be used. Middle East oil, on the other hand, is very "pure" in that it does not need to be refined very much to make it usable.

2. While it is true that Suncor has been able to prefect the tar sands extraction process over the last few years, it is only a matter of time before geological reality starts to have a negative impact on the cost of extracting the oil. These tar sands are located in a deep, diagonal seam in the earth's rock layers, and the oil that is currently being extracted is from the shallowest part of one end of this seam. As this oil is depleted, it will become necessary to either drill through progressively deep layers of rock to get to the oil or develop a method of drawing the oil out through some kind of directional digging process. The thing you have to remember is that this oil is not drilled (as it usually is), but mined, so the directional drilling that is used these days will not help.

On the other hand, I am quite confident that Alberta has tremendous potential to serve as a long-term energy source for the U.S. (not just oil but coal, which is abundant along the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies). For one thing, this province is very forward-thinking and pro-business, and I expect that innovative extraction and refining techniques will be developed here over the coming years. In addition to that, oil and natural gas extraction plays such a vital role in the economy here that many of the standard land use approvals are waived, by law, for projects in these areas.

To top it all off, and to answer some other questions here related to the environmentalists in Canada, there isn't a place in Canada, if not all of North America, that is more antagonistic to environmentalists when their objectives cause problems in the local economy. Even PETA pulled all of their billboard and radio ads up here this summer, in response to some veiled threats from the cattle industry. The Alberta Beef Industry had started their own anti-PETA campaign, with the following slogan:

"Save a cow ... Eat an environmentalist!"

Albertans do have a sense of humor.

45 posted on 09/30/2001 9:16:53 PM PDT by Alberta's Child
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If we don't buy it? who else will?

how long do you think these opec billionaires will sit around not collecting money...not long.

46 posted on 09/30/2001 9:19:17 PM PDT by KneelBeforeZod
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To: aculeus
Whoever has the most oil last, wins.
47 posted on 09/30/2001 9:19:35 PM PDT by slimer
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To: Great Dane
# 40.....We sure do, Dane! Didn't mean to be so nationalistic aboot it, LOL

Leni

48 posted on 09/30/2001 9:25:21 PM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: mosby
you're exactley right. here are the stats for 2000:
"The top suppliers of oil to the United States during 2000 were Canada (1.69 MMBD), Saudi Arabia (1.57 MMBD), Venezuela (1.52 MMBD), and Mexico (1.36 MMBD)."

25% of the crude is used for engine oils. We could have a huge savings if we can get to totally synthetic for engines. ( hell, I'd even agree to a fed mandate for it)
49 posted on 09/30/2001 9:25:38 PM PDT by stylin19a
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To: XBob
One of the bad things Regan did was to stop this experimental program, as if he had left it going, we would now have an economically viable production process.

Why not just let capitalisim discover the viable processes? Government is terrible at inventing economically viable anything. Reagan did the right thing.

50 posted on 09/30/2001 9:41:13 PM PDT by Reeses
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