DAVID NUNUK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID NUNUK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Oil refinery at sunset. A tailings pond, for the disposal of waste material from the mining and refining process, is seen in the foreground. This is the Syncrude oil processing plant, in the Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada. The oil-bearing sands are excavated, and then processed to obtain crude oil and bitumen. Syncrude began operating in the 1970s. As of 2008, it is the world's largest producer of crude oil from oil sands, extracting hundreds of thousands of barrels a day. The Athabasca oil reserves are among the largest in the world.
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