Where are They?

Location of the Province of Alberta in Canada

The world’s main oil sands deposits are located in the province of Alberta, in western Canada. Spanning 140,000 km2, oil sands span three areas: Peace River, Cold Lake, and Athabasca, the largest area.

Deposits sufficiently close to the surface can be recovered using mining techniques, equal to 4,800 km2, or 3.3% of the three areas combined, and 0.05% of Canada’s surface area (9,984,670 km2).

A map of Canada’s boreal forest showing the locations of the mining leases being operated or developed

The rest of the recoverable oil sands area can be extracted using production techniques called in situ, a more advanced recovery method derived from injecting steam and drilling wells underground.

Proved oil sands reserves are estimated at 170 billion barrels – the world’s second-largest oil reserves after those of Saudi Arabia.