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Tarsands are sands that contains hydrocarbons. It can be explored by mining (surface and underground) or by in-situ methods (mining and processing underground by underground drilling/heat technologies). Water is used a lot (as in: in huge quantities) in tarsand based oil production. The first reason for this is due the physical characteristic of water that it can transfer a lot of heath: water can absorb and provide back 0,5 MJ in a rise from 0 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees and back to 0 degrees. The second reason is that it can control a production process not to rise above 100 degrees Celsius, which is useful by tarsand production as higher process temperatures would cause a lot of oil lost due to these higher heats. But water is getting more and more expensive for the tarsand industry. The same way regional/national governments tries to strip the oil internationals as much as possible after they've done their investments (which is the future of the oil internationals in one line), the Canadian Administration for example has installed a Water Tax, that just tax additional (above all other taxes and fees) $ 15 tot $ 20 of each produced barrel of tarsand originated oil. The tarsand based hydrocarbon industry will abandon the water based production model (not for the taxes: it still is very attractive), but due the fact that the tarsand industry uses so many water that the water must be transported to the production sites over more and more long distances and will become to expensive. Water scarcity is the huge (and stupid) forgotten production facet in the current tarsand development/technology. Tarsands will be waterless burned (power) or gassed (gas). The waterless production processes will also more energy efficient (less cost and more sales). The underground based new high tech in-situ production model will gain enormous popularity: based on direct harvesting/using the energetic value of the vaporized gasses, or indirect by warmth pump technologies. The current tarsand model is just a beta version of the future tarsand model. A huge development in tarsand energy efficiency improvement will be if tarsand-to-power plants. They will become the most used model. This model requires an on-location power infrastructure. When hydrogen production energy efficiency could rise, that would also be an off grid location than.

Author: Gijs Graafland

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