The good news is a lot of research is being conducted to make tar sand extraction and processing, cheaper, more environmentally friendly, less energy-intensive and more efficient. I've done posts on this before (here, here and here); now I have some information on ET Energy's Electro-Thermal Dynamic Stripping Process (ET-DSP), a new and innovative process that could conjure far more tar sands, do so more cheaply, and do it all with lower energy and environmental price tags.
Here's the article. It's long, so I blockquoted the best parts. The rest of the article really isn't worth reading. You can also go the company's website and learn more about ET-DSP here.
Ever since oil began its long dive last summer, a torrent of callers has been ringing Bruce McGee's phone. Every time he answers, he tells investors, energy companies and whoever else who will listen this story: He believes his company, E-T Energy Ltd., can produce oil at a profit with prices at $26 a barrel.
Mr. McGee, who is president, believes that changes everything. By his calculation, E-T's technology can be used to pump out 600 billion barrels of oil sands bitumen. That's more than triple the Alberta government's best guess at what's currently recoverable from the oil sands, and enough to satisfy total global demand for two years.
"If the price of oil stays at $40 a barrel, it will replace mining," predicts Craig McDonald, E-T's vice-president of operations. In coming weeks, the company will hit the road to raise $150-million to commercialize its technology.
That technology isn't much to look at — just a few well heads and large tanks sitting on a windswept field south of Fort McMurray. A series of electrodes dangle in each well. When they are turned on, they pass a current through the earth — like electricity through a stove element — and heat it up. The result: The bitumen, which is normally locked in sand as hard as rock, begins to flow — like molasses in a microwave. No huge mines needed, no greenhouse gas-spewing steam projects required.
In a place accustomed to prying bitumen from the earth using monstrous shovels and vast quantities of steam, this pilot project is a bold attempt to reshape the environmental and financial costs of the oil sands.