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Natural resource development is something that has
been occurring in Alberta for many centuries. It
began with Aboriginals, who used the land to enrich
their lives, such as using the sticky oil sands to
waterproof their canoes, and it continues today in
the form of large resource development programs,
like the oil sands development project occurring
near Fort McMurray. The resources being developed
have changed through time, and so have the
technologies that help develop them.
Throughout Alberta's history, the petroleum industry
has affected almost every aspect of life.
Government, in particular, has been concerned with
the revenues coming from resource development, and
it was not until the 1930s that Alberta gained
control over its own natural resource revenues.
Early History: Crude Oil and Natural Gas
Since the earliest recorded history, there have been
accounts of crude oil and natural gas seeping to the
earth's surface. The oil was used to caulk boats and
buildings, grease wheels and dress the wounds of
people and animals. Until the refining process was
developed in the 1850s, oil was not commonly used as
fuel because of its foul-smelling fumes.
Natural gas fed the celebrated "perpetual fires" at
Delphi in Greece, Baku on the Caspian Sea and other
sites in the ancient world. In the third century AD,
the Chinese transported gas in bamboo pipes to light
their temples. They also used natural gas heat to
extract salt from water.