Oil sands refer to any porous reservoir (generally sandstone) containing oil. The term may refer to formations close to the surface containing heavy hydrocarbons whereby the sands are mined and processed to produce synthetic crude oil.
How it’s important to us
It is important that we are aware of the general term “oil sands” and don’t perceive it as simply sand with oil in it (as one could easily reason based on the term). They are an unconventional type of petroleum deposit filled with naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay and water saturated with a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum, called bitumen. Oil sands are found in numerous locations, but the largest currently known deposits are found in Canada. Oil sands reserves have only recently been counted among the world’s oil reserves, as higher prices and new extraction methods made production from these formations economically viable.