Environmental and Economic Implications of the Biogeochemistry of Oil Sands Bitumens

  • H. Huang
  • R. C. Silva
  • J. R. Radović
  • S. R. Larter
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Oil sands are one of the largest global resources of petroleum, which, in the future, will potentially be produced and transported on an increasing scale. The unique biogeochemistry of oil sands bitumens is the result of extensive in-reservoir biodegradation which produced very viscous and dense fluids, rich in aromatic hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbons, containing sulfur and nitrogen and oxygen. The physicochemical properties of such species have significant implications for the economic and environmental aspects of oil sands exploitation, for example, energy and water use, residue generation (i.e., tailings ponds), fate and effects of incidental spills, etc. In this chapter we give an integrated overview of the oil sands bitumen composition, its effects on bitumen behavior, and discuss the future research needs, in particular the integration of more advanced analytical chemical protocols and models, needed for the reliable assessment of non-hydrocarbon species, in spilled oil scenarios, which are the major component of some oil sands bitumens.



We acknowledge the support of Canada Research Chairs, Canada Foundation for Innovation, NSERC, the University of Calgary and PRG group members, past and present, for discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Huang
    • 1
  • R. C. Silva
    • 1
  • J. R. Radović
    • 1
  • S. R. Larter
    • 1
  1. 1.PRG, Department of GeoscienceUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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