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Crude Oil

Crude oil plays a central role in the daily lives of Canadians. Our land, sea and air transportation depends almost entirely on products refined from crude oil. (In fact, it is easier to list the few transportation methods that do not depend on crude oil - walking, bicycling and horse-powered transports; electric rail and trolley systems, and a small percentage of motor vehicles that have been converted to run on propane and natural gas.) Sophisticated processing facilities called refineries convert about three-quarters of our crude oil into transportation fuels. Most other refined oil products are used to heat homes and buildings, generate electricity, and manufacture lubricants, waxes, plastics, synthetic rubber and asphalt. So as you can see crude oil is a part of your life whether you know it or not!

The crude oil industry is also an important part of the Canadian economy. The oil industry provides thousands of jobs in exploration, production, transportation, refining, distribution and marketing. It pays billions of dollars in taxes and other payments to municipal, provincial and federal governments, and significant amounts to private landowners and Aboriginal people. And it supports many kinds of technological research and development, which enables Canadian companies to sell equipment and services around the world.

Cuttings and Cores

Results from previous drilling provide important information for explorationists. When a well is drilled, small rock chips called cuttings are recovered from the drilling fluid. These are ground up and broken off by the drill bit as it cuts into the earth. Geologists, geochemists and palynologists - scientists who study pollen and small fossils - examine the cuttings to learn more about the age, chemistry, porosity, permeability and other properties of the subsurface rock formations.

Larger rock samples called cores, can also be cut using a special coring bit. Although coring adds to the cost of the well, laboratory analysis and visual examination of the core provide additional important details about the basin's history, the composition and physical characteristics of the rock and any fluids within it.