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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Hydrocarbons > Oil Sands Resources > Heavy Oil Characteristics

Resource Inventory

Heavy Oil Characteristics

Samples from the Oil SandsHeavy Oil, having a density greater than 904 kilograms per cubic metre, is composed mainly of gas-oil, lube oil and asphaltenes—all high-density materials. Only a small percentage is recoverable by conventional means; thermal methods, used in the oil sands, are being employed to recover heavy oil. Heavy oil reserves in Alberta are estimated at 53 million cubic metres, with the province's major fields located along Alberta's eastern border.

Currently, most heavy oil is exported to U.S. Midwest refineries, but the Alberta government also encourages the upgrading of heavy oil and bitumen resources in the province.

Alberta Energy Information Centre. Alberta in the Global Energy Spectrum. Edmonton: n.p., 1989. With permission from the Alberta Research Council

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