Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Canada’s Oil Sands

The oil sands are a powerful source of Canadian energy. Moving us. Heating us. Creating jobs. Helping pay for public services. Energy from the oil sands happens because of the human energy and innovation that goes into it. People striving to do better while working to reduce impact on the environment. That’s as Canadian as it gets.



    What are tailings ponds?
    After the oil sands have been mined, oil is separated from the sand and sent for further processing. “Tailings” are the leftover liquid mixture of mostly sand, some water and clay and residual bitumen. Settling or tailings ponds are large engineered dam and dyke systems designed to contain and settle the water, sand, fine clays, silts, residual bitumen and other residual hydrocarbons of the oil sands mining and extraction process.

    Water Recycling
    Tailings ponds are settling basins that enable process water to be separated and continuously recycled. Oil sands producers recycle 80–95% of water used, reducing use of fresh water from the Athabasca River and other sources.

    The Government of Alberta requires all oil sands operators to have plans in place to convert fine tailings to reclaimable landscapes.

    182 km2
    The total are of existing tailings ponds is 182 km2 including associated structures such as ditches and dykes. The total surface area of all fluid tailings is 77 km2.

Learn more about tailings ponds.

We need your support

Now is a critical time for Canada’s oil and natural gas industry. We are fortunate to have energy resources the world needs, but we have a challenge in getting it there. By working together, we know we can find a way to get our oil and natural gas to new markets by rail, pipe or marine – safely and responsibly.  We will never stop working to protect our environment, our people and our communities; that is energy developed the Canadian way.