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Myth Buster

Myth: Oil sands development is disturbing vast areas of land

A common myth is that oil sands development is destroying an area of land greater than the size of England. It's just not true.

Myth: 

A common myth claimed as fact by critics is that oil sands development is destroying an area of land greater than the size of England.

Busted:

Oil sands mines, the type of oil extraction method that causes significant land disturbance, covers 895 square kilometres: an area slightly larger than the city of Calgary. That's about 7/1000th the size of England which is roughly 130,000 square kilometres in size.

In situ facilities like this wellpad near Christina Lake have a small land footprint relative to the surrounding environment.

The false claim is likely based on the fact that the entire oil sands region is 142,000 square kilometres in size. However, 97 per cent of this area contains oil sands reserves deeper underground. In situ (drilling) methods are used to extract this oil. In situ methods cause very little surface land disturbance relative to the surrounding environment.

Finally, oil sands producers are committed to, and required by law, to reclaim 100 per cent of land disturbed to a self-sustaining, natural state as close as reasonable to its original condition.