The amount of water used to produce a barrel of oilsands crude fell by more than 30 per cent from 2012 to 2014, according to an industry group, a period in which statistics show production rose by nearly 400,000 barrels per day or 22 per cent to 2.2 million bpd.

In its 2015 update report, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance or COSIA notes that members with in situ operations, where steam is used to heat up the formation and allow the heavy crude to be produced from a well, used .23 of a barrel of fresh water per barrel of oil in 2014, compared with .36 of a barrel in 2012.

It said oilsands mining operations used 1.5 barrels of Athabasca River water to produce one barrel of bitumen in 2014, compared with 2.2 barrels in 2012.

COSIA was created in 2012 to share technologies developed by its oilsands producer members to reduce environmental damage. It has set a goal to halve fresh water use per barrel by in situ operations by 2022, and cut by 30 per cent Athabasca River water use per barrel by miners.

Critics point out that the industry’s total impacts on water, air and land have actually increased as production grows, even if the damage per barrel falls.

“The bottom line is we are seeing results,” said chief executive Dan Wicklum at an event in downtown Calgary on Wednesday. “Between 2012 and 2014, companies decreased their fresh water use intensity by 36 per cent for in situ and … their net use of water from the Athabasca River in mining by 30 per cent.

“The companies absolutely cautioned that water use often fluctuates over the years but these results are encouraging.”

Source: Calgary Herald - see full article