The Patch is the story of Fort McMurray and the oilsands in northern Alberta, the world’s second largest proven reserve of oil. But this is no conventional story about the oil business. Rather, it is a portrait of the lifecycle of the Patch, showing just how deeply it continues to impact the lives of everyone around the world.
In its heyday, the oilsands represented an industrial triumph and the culmination of a century of innovation, experiment, engineering, policy, and finance. Fort McMurray was a boomtown, the centre of a new gold rush, and the oilsands were reshaping the global energy, political, and financial landscapes. But in 2008, a new narrative emerged. As financial markets collapsed and the cold, hard, scientific reality of the Patch’s effect on the environment became clear, the region turned into a boogeyman and a lightning rod for the global movement combatting climate change. Suddenly, the streets of Fort McMurray were the front line of a high-stakes collision between two conflicting worldviews–one of industrial triumph and another of environmental stewardship–each backed by major players on the world stage.
The Patch is a narrative-driven account of this ongoing conflict. It follows a select group of key characters whose experiences in and with the oilsands overlap in concentric narrative arcs. Through this insightful combination of global perspective and on-the-ground action, The Patch will show how the reach of the oilsands extends to all of us. From Fort Mac to the Bakken shale country of North Dakota, from Houston to London, from Saudi Arabia to the shores of Brazil, the whole world is connected in this enterprise. And it demands that we ask the question: In order to both fuel the world and to save it, what do we do about the Patch?