The scale of Alberta’s oil sands operations, the world's largest industrial project, is hard to grasp. Especially north of Fort McMurray, where the boreal forest has been razed and bitumen is mined from the ground in immense open pits, the blot on the landscape is incomparable.
If Alberta, with its population of four million people, were a country, it would be the fifth largest oil-producing nation. While it produces conventional oil, most comes from the Alberta oil sands, the world’s third largest proven oil reserve at 170 billion barrels.
And these days, even as Canada promotes action on climate change on the world stage, the Canadian and provincial governments are pushing to expand oil sands operations—which brings substantial economic benefits to the