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New study examines energy efficiency of oil sands extraction

Review of 40-year period by Prof. Adam Brandt indicates improvement, but still significantly less efficient than conventional oil production

May 6, 2013

Energy Resources Engineering Prof. Adam Brandt and colleagues collected and reviewed monthly oil sands energy consumption and output data from 1970 to 2010 to study the energy efficiency of the oil sands industry. The research applied a new methodology and new dataset to compute energy return ratios -- the energy returned on energy invested. They  found that while the sands operations are becoming significantly more energy efficient, they are lower than those in conventional oil operations.  The authors wrote that "low energy returns are not likely to under development of oil sands operations due to the large resource in place and the ability for largely self-fueled pathways to return significant amounts of energy to society for every unit of external energy supplied."  Sharad Bharadwaj and Jacob Englander are co-authors of the study published recently in the Elsevier journal Energy.