Tar sands is a colloquialism for what are technically described as bituminous sands, and commonly known as oil sands or (in Venezuela) extra heavy oil. The sands are naturally occurring mixtures of sand or clay, water and an extremely dense and viscous form of petroleum called bitumen. They are found in large amounts in many countries throughout the world, but are found in extremely large quantities in Canada and Venezuela.
They have only recently been considered to be part of the world's oil reserves, as higher oil prices and new technology enable them to be profitably extracted and upgraded to usable products. Oil sand is often referred to as non-conventional oil or crude bitumen, in order to distinguish the bitumen and synthetic oil extracted from tar sands from the free-flowing hydrocarbon mixtures known as crude oil traditionally produced from oil wells. See Bituminous rocks.
· 1 decade ago