US (tar sands)

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Production (current): 
5,000 barrels per day
Production (projected): 
35,000 barrels per day
Deposits (in place): 
55.00 billion barrels

The plot:

While debates about pipelines associated with tar sands bitumen from Canada traversing US territory continue, precedents are being possibly set in Utah allowing that Canadian industry to export upstream and not just downstream technology. Many US states have bitumen deposits that if produced not only would wreak havoc on any possible climate mitigation but also decimate already sparse local water tables in many different places across the Lower 48 and Alaska. Strip mining proposed in Utah is by a Canadian "oil sands" company, "US Oil Sands".

The details:

There are many places throughout the United States that contain bitumen in place, otherwise known as tar sands or oil sands. In the state of Utah, an Alberta-based company named “US Oil Sands” has received permit approval for the first open pit bitumen mine in the United States (In Grand and Uintah counties--closest to Vernal, UT), while in California in-situ operations already exist near Oxnard in Pleasant Valley (approximately 50 miles west of central Los Angeles).


The locations of the bitumen deposits by US state, according to the US Geological Survey, are listed below in billions of barrels (bbl):


[important note: bitumen reserves below are a combination of known reserves and educated guesses by the USGS as to the likely approximate total for a region or deposit. The actual economic or technologically recoverable size of the deposits is unknown. For a non-scientific “rule of thumb” to help make sense of these numbers, consider that Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada are estimated to contain around 2 trillion barrels of bitumen, while recoverable barrels of synthetic oil are currently estimated at ~175 bbl. Thus, it is safe to gauge a deposit as approximately 10% recoverable as an average.]


Utah: 18.7 bbl

Alaska: 15 bbl

Alabama: 6.4 bbl

Texas: 4.9 bbl

California: 4.5 bbl

Kentucky: 3.4 bbl

Oklahoma: 0.8 bbl

New Mexico: 0.35 bbl

Wyoming: 0.15 bbl

Articles about US (tar sands)

Oct 18, 2012
Decision on Eastern Utah’s tar sands mine expected next month. By JUDY FAHYS | The Salt Lake Tribune   Sep 26 2012 Plans for a Book Cliffs tar sands mine — the nation’s first...
May 26, 2013
Utah’s oil shale, tar sands in for a bumpy ride By Brian Maffly The Salt Lake Tribune   First Published May 07 2013 Eastern Utah might be blessed with abundant oil shale and tar sands,...
May 26, 2013
BLM proposes to open lands near Vernal for tar sands development By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News  Wednesday, May 15 2013 VERNAL — Utah is home to an estimated 55 percent of the...
May 29, 2013
Groups suing BLM for decision to open lands for oil shale, tar sands leasing By Amy Joi O'Donoghue May 25th, 2013 SALT LAKE CITY — More than a half dozen conservation and environmental...
Jun 18, 2013
Tar Sands Mining to Begin This Summer in Logan County, Kentucky WKMS (NPR, United States)    Mon June 17, 2013 Later this summer, a company plans to open a surface mine in southern...
Jun 19, 2013
Tar Sands Mining Begins in Utah: U.S. Ground Zero For Dirtiest Energy By Tara Lohan, June 18th, 2013 A few years ago most Americans had never heard of tar sands. Now, thanks to...
Jul 17, 2013
Utah Tar Sands: Will The U.S. Join Canada In Tapping The 'Bottom Of The Barrel'? Posted: 06/29/2013 HuffPost// Lynne Peeples While record numbers of protesters were chaining themselves to...
Jul 23, 2013
For Immediate Release, July 22, 2013 Contact:  Taylor McKinnon, Grand Canyon Trust, (801) 300-2414 John Weisheit, Living Rivers, (435) 259-1063 David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness...
Jul 31, 2013
Activists protest proposed Utah tar sands mine, shut down road project By Geoff Liesik July 29th, 2013 THE BOOK CLIFFS, Uintah County — Environmental activists chained themselves to heavy...
Aug 12, 2013
Alabama explores potential of tapping into its oil sands reservesCecilia Jamasmie | August 10, 2013 Alabama is taking a leaf out of the Canadian playbook by exploring the potential of its oil sands...