The oil sands development in northern Alberta has become a hot bed for debate between producers and environmental groups. With worldwide water crisis rapidly developing the use of water in the development Alberta’s oil sands begs the question, are the oil sands in northern Alberta being developed with social responsibility in mind? Social responsibility is a balance companies must maintain between people, the planet and profit. Propaganda produced by environmental agencies and oil companies must be examined for biases; environmentalists seem to blame all of Canada’s environmental ailments on “evil” oil companies (Thompson, 2012).
With so many people involved with the development of Alberta’s oil sand the list of stakeholders is very difficult to exhaust. Key stakeholders include the Alberta Government, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Alberta tax payers, environmental groups, the media, Energy and Resource Conservation Board and in many cases First Nations communities. Although the reach of people affected goes far beyond these people to international companies purchasing oil sands oil, foreign governments, other provinces in Canada and the people in small towns in Alberta directly impacted by this work. With water use being a key factor in the oil sands there are additional stakeholders who would not normally concern themselves in oil and gas production. The CAPP members who are involved with production out of Alberta’s oil sands are under the microscope by a copious amount of stakeholders all around the world in an incredibly broad number of capacities.
Statistic from 2007 show oil companies using around 221 million cubic meters of water as opposed to the 4.1 billion allocated to the agriculture industry (Thompson, 2012). This low number for water usage in the oil and gas industry is due to the fact that industry involvement with government agencies such as the Energy Resources Conservation Board, the Government of Alberta and Environment Alberta is having a major impact with regards to water usage in the oil sands. Government has been working closely with industry for years, which is also a key factor in developing the oil sands in a socially responsible way. Most major oil companies are involved with initiatives like Water for Life Strategy, Alberta Water Council and Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (CAPP, 2012). Alberta’s oil sands are being developed with social responsibility in mind.
Dr. Lorne Taylor (2012, p. 3), the chair of the Alberta Water Research Institute, states, “Organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are convincing Canadians and the world that Alberta’s oil sands are a scourge on the environment”. Environmental groups and the media are unfortunately shedding a poor light on the development of the oil sands in northern Alberta. Bob Weinhold (2011, pg. 119), a veteran environmental journalist, states “the Royal Society of Canada...