The vast oil sands region of northern Alberta has long been a source of controversy due to the massive amount of energy and water needed to extract and refine its oil and the toll it takes on the landscape. Alberta is an important part of the central flyway and waterfowl mortality on the oil operation’s giant tailings ponds is just one concern. Many argue, however, that whatever environmental damage the area sustains is an acceptable trade-off for having a nearby and secure long-term source of energy for North America.

But what if much of that oil was going to China? Would the environmental consequences for North American hunting and fishing be worth it then?

From the story on

China Petrochemical Corporation will buy ConocoPhillips’ stake in the Syncrude Canada oil sands project in Alberta for $4.65 billion. The deal, confirmed this week by ConocoPhillips, represents state-owned Sinopec’s second investment in an oil sands project since it spent $105 million in 2005 for a share in the Northern Lights project, also in Alberta. Syncrude, the largest oil sands venture in the world, has a production capacity of 350,000 barrels per day. It involves surface mining, extraction and upgrading. At year-end 2009, its estimated reserves were 11.9 billion barrels. The Conoco deal is the latest peg in China’s spree of energy acquisitions to keep up with soaring demand as the world’s largest energy consumer after the United States.

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