Black Bonanza: Canada's Oil Sands and the Race to Secure North America's Energy Future

Alastair Sweeny

Published by Wiley, 2010
ISBN 10: 0470161388 / ISBN 13: 9780470161388
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Synopsis: What if Canada 's so-called environmental nightmare was really anengineering triumph and the key to a stable and sustainablefuture?

For years, Canadians have been hearing nothing but bad news outof the Athabasca Oil Sands. From 20th Century economists decryingit as a perpetual money-loser in the face of more easily-extractedforeign oil to green groups around the world declaring it theworld's worst industrial enterprise, sometimes it seems as thoughno good could ever come from this so-called dirty resource.

But what if developing Canada's Oil Sands was the key tobridging the gap between current petroleum-based economies and thealternative energies that aren't ready for market yet? What if itmeant eliminating the threat of Peak Oil and providing economicstability not just for Canada and the rest of North America, butfor the world? And what if the environmental costs of the resourcewere both not nearly as dire as some would have you believe, butcurrently better than many other options with the industry alreadymaking huge advances in sustainability, energy use and waterreclamation?

That's exactly the case that Alastair Sweeny, author ofBlackBerry Planet, argues is at the core of the AthabascaSands: a bright future. By digging into the past, present andfuture of oil sands technology, Sweeny cuts through the hype andhysteria and makes a solid and engaging case that the Sands aren'tthe environmental boogeyman set to destroy humanity, but rather ourbest hope for a truly stable and sustainable future.

From the Inside Flap: Various groups are campaigning hard against mining the AthabascaSands, but do we want or even need to curtail what may well proveto be the greatest engineering achievement of the last or comingcentury?

What started out as a resource no one thought very much of hasbecome an economic powerhouse and an abundant source of easilyaccessible energy. From the pioneering days in the middle of the20th century through the booms and technological breakthroughs ofthe 1990s and 2000s and the constant political wrangling along theway, the Alberta Oil Sands are showing their promise as the mostabundant source of petroleum available to us now and into the nextcentury.

While there have been environmental challenges, BlackBonanza breaks down the myths surrounding the development ofthe oil sands and the harvesting of this "dirty oil," and showspeople the real state of affairs in Alberta, Canada. Panickednaysayers are insisting all activity be shut down immediately underthe banner of environmentalism, but the truth of the matter is thatnot only is oil production from the Sands cleaner than other majorenergy options such as coal mining, its impact is relatively mildand geographically minor. The producers are continually improvingsustainability, using fewer resources per barrel and governmentsare now requiring them to speed up the reclamation of old miningsites. Best of all, new technologies are increasingly movingextraction underground, where the environmental footprint is muchsmaller. This is opening up a brand new bonanza-the 90% of theSands that can't be mined-amounting to a breathtaking trillionbarrels of oil or more.

Despite gains made in solar, wind and tide energy generation, westill live in a petroleum economy, and the Athabasca Sands willallow the world enough time to make a smooth sea change tosustainable solutions while avoiding the risks of dealing withundemocratic and unstable petrostates.

Sweeny presents a compelling and contrarian case that while thereare still serious issues that need to be addressed, Canada's oilsands represent the best hope for energy stability and responsibleeconomic and environmental growth in the future.

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Title: Black Bonanza: Canada's Oil Sands and the ...
Publisher: Wiley
Publication Date: 2010
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good
Edition: 1.

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