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    Crude oil: Conventional and unconventional


    Author: Jimmy Thomson, Canadian Geographic

    Publish Date: Oct 10, 2013   Last Update: Sep 20, 2018


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    Crude oil can be turned into many different fossil fuel products, such as kerosene and gasoline, and usually contains dissolved gases, such as methane, ethane and propane.

    Crude oil extracted by drilling wells is called conventional oil. Today, as supplies start to wane, more energy-intensive and expensive forms of oil extraction (unconventional oil) are needed to keep up with demand.


    In its natural state, crude oil can either be light (more fluid and requiring less processing) or heavy (more viscous and requiring more processing).

    Extraction in the early days (late 1800s) was much simpler — in some places, the pressure was so great that oil would shoot out of the ground. Today, as supplies wane, more energy intensive and expensive forms of oil extraction are needed to keep up with demand. These unconventional oil sources include deepwater offshore drilling, tight oil (or shale oil) and oilsands.

    Saskatchewan produces 12% of total Canadian crude oil production and is the 2nd largest crude oil producing province in Canada. Alberta is the largest producer of crude oil in Canada, accounting for almost 80% of total production. The Irving Oil refinery is the only refinery in New Brunswick and the largest refinery in Canada.


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