Non-Conventional Oil

Vincent Kaminski

The concept of non-conventional oil is not something that is cast in stone and immutable: it is likely to evolve over time, as is the concept of non-conventional natural gas.11In the section on natural gas, we used the analogy of an unconventional lifestyle, for which there are as many definitions as the number of people in the room. What was previously considered cutting-edge technology, becomes the standard technology of today. This term is used often without offering a precise definition and, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. For the purpose of this chapter, we shall adopt the definition of non-conventional oil corresponding to the classification used by the IEA in “World Energy Outlook” (2010).22This section relies heavily on the IEA WEO 2010. The following resources are included:

    • Canadian oil sands;

    • Venezuelan extra heavy oil (Orinoco Belt deposits);

    • oil shales;

    • gas-to-liquids; and

    • coal-to-liquids;

    • refinery additives and gasoline blending additives (MTBE).

We discuss also oil from shale rock formations (which is

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