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alberta’s energy beach.

I have always been fascinated by the debate over the proper name for the “bituminous sand” that spans across and beneath large tracks of Northern Alberta (I like to call them Alberta’s Energy Beach). In an elongated public relations war, environmental groups have labelled them as ‘tarsands,’ while the energy sector and the Government of Alberta have remained strident in describing them as the more friendly-sounding ‘oilsands.’

With the oilsands getting a rougher reputation on the international stage and the Copenhagen Conference around the corner, the residents of one of the larger beachfront cabins have coined a new term for their expensive piece of  real estate:

First they were tar sands. Then they were oil sands. Now? Enhanced oil projects. At least according to En-Cana Corp. and its oil-sands spinoff, Cenovus Energy

The pair want to distinguish their oil-sands operations, which employ the underground and more carbon-intensive steam-assisted gravity (SAGD) drainage method, from the more aesthetically offensive open-pit mining efforts that are accompanied by deadly tailings ponds. As a result, the two firms have ditched the term “oil sands” from their lexicon and replaced it with “enhanced oil projects” or just “oil projects.”

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