Canadians ponder cost of rush for dirty oil
Here we get a long and considered article on Canada's oil sand bonanza or environmental disaster depending on how you view it. Alberta as the new Kuwait. John Vidal's piece is a mixture of sound fact and comment and worth a read from whichever side of the barrel you sit.
The future of northern Alberta's aspen and pine woods, its rivers and animals are in doubt as the world's greatest modern oil rush accelerates. Shell, Chevron, Exxon, Total, Occidental, Imperial and most other oil majors have so far invested nearly $100bn Canadian dollars (£50bn) in the 1,160 square mile (3,000 square kilometre) "bitumen belt", which is being called the "new Kuwait".
A decade ago, the vast landscape of forests and lakes around Fort McMurray and the Athabasca river provided a fairly minor and barely profitable sand oil industry. But it is now pitted with hundreds of square kilometres of toxic waste ponds, mines that are 300ft deep, hundreds of miles of pipes and burgeoning petrochemical works. Every day brings a bumper to bumper stream of lorries carrying the world's largest plant, pipes and machinery to the area, as well as young men seeking fortunes, and, say critics, the devastation of a pristine land.