was originally used as paving material as it is a
semi solid or solid material of hydrocarbons and
sand. It presents a problem, however, because the oil is
difficult to separate from the sand.
Since Kerosene was expensive,
companies sought to utilize oil sands as an energy
source. The development of the technology to
separate bitumen was developed by Dr. Karl Clark.
Several decades had passed since the hot water
process of separating bitumen from oil sands was
created. An upgrade of the technology was
needed. In 1945, the first Alberta Research Council
investigations of water flooding methods of
dislodging bitumen from deeply buried deposits were
initiated. The many improvements that resulted in
increased bitumen recovery to between 80 and 90
percent from good grades of sand.
In 1965, many in the oil industry
recognized the need for a new pilot facility. The
Research Council's Clover Bar pilot plant was
established and it created a closer partnership
industry and government research projects. It was
not until 1967 that the new technology was used by
the Great Canadian Oil Sands (now Suncor) operations
near Fort McMurray. At the time, it was the largest
industrial enterprise built in Alberta. The long
term effects have been substantial: oil and bitumen
production from the oil sands in Alberta from 1967
to 1999 annually were 35.0 million m3 and
cumulatively 400 million m3.