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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
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Industry

The petroleum industry's importance to Canadians cannot be underestimated. Canada is the third-largest producer of natural gas and the eleventh-largest producer of crude oil in the world. This has resulted in a multi-billion dollar industry that is estimated to employ almost half a million Canadians.

A bituminous sand seperation plantPetroleum products touch every aspect of our daily lives. The list is extensive—we use petroleum-based synthetics in our clothing and bedding, plastics are shaped into items for domestic and industrial use, and we heat our homes and fuel our cars with oil and gas. As the world’s heaviest users of energy per capita, Canadians place great demands on the petroleum industry.

Testing water resourcesThe Canadian petroleum industry has a significant challenge.  How do oil and gas companies meet the domestic and global needs of customers, while protecting and preserving reserves? Although Canada is fortunate in having a large endowment of petroleum resources, there is a need to consider future generations. Petroleum is not a renewable resource and some stocks have already been exhausted.

The extraction and use of oil and gas also have environmental impacts and costs.  The industry is being challenged to be not only fiscally but also environmentally and socially responsible.  Because oil and natural gas resources are found in specific regions, there are also issues pertaining to "have" and "have not" provinces. Industry regulation is an important issue not only locally but also nationally and internationally. As well, the industry also is a contested area with respect to the the rights of Aboriginal People.

This section of the website presents the industry from exploration to production and use. Reserves are discussed as are the companies and organizations involved in the industry. Different perspectives are presented through examination of the history, the role of companies, and the issues that face the industry. Each subsection builds to create an in-depth look at how petroleum resources were, are, and will be developed, and the gradual progression towards responsible development and wise use.  Areas were there are differences of opinion and conflicting points of view are presented and explored, such as the Kyoto Accord.
 

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            For more on the oil industry in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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