Mother Nature Loves Hockey

Mother Nature likes hockey. I know she likes hockey because I have seen and handled the tar that holds the oil.

jaron summers

(c) 2015

tar sands


I make up lots of things because mostly I’m a fiction writer. I also say outlandish things. I write humor and satire. Most of that depends on exagerrrration.

Today I would like to discuss Energy Return on Investment, or EROI. Figure out if I’m pulling your leg.

Consider this by Daniel Gross: “… conventional oil production worldwide pays off at about a 20-to-1 ratio. And in Canada, where the oil comes from tar sands, it’s closer to 5-to-1.”

That means it costs Canada one barrel ($50) of oil to produce five ($250).

Here is a link to his article in Slate that explains how much oil energy you need to bring up a barrel of oil.

Not everyone agrees that it takes a barrel of oil to end up with five from the Oil Sands.

For example some feel it takes a barrel to “harvest” a barrel.  So five barrels would sell for $250 but that would be the cost of producing it.  Zero profit.

Pretty crazy huh?

OK I will tell you something crazier. For fifty years our family has owned a house by the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Often when I am in Edmonton I spend many fun hours looking through the U of A libraries. I talk to lots of people. They make a big deal out of researching the cost of yanking oil out of the tar sands.

According to some of the smartest scientists and professors — when you add up all the expenses — it takes the cost of five barrels of oil to wrestle one from the tar sands.  So this means each barrel of oil costs $250 to produce — Canada loses $200 for each barrel it sells on the world market.

Why? Because Mother Nature likes hockey. I know she likes hockey because I have seen and handled the tar that holds the oil. That tar has the same consistency as a hockey puck.


And in spite of what you might be hearing it’s very expensive to extract oil from something as dense as a hockey puck.

What next? How about  using underground nuclear explosions to free the oil?  100 detonations to start.  That is on the table.




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Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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