One of the biggest North American Growth stories in the coming decade is that of the Athabasca oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta. The Athabasca oil sands are the largest deposits of crude bitumen, a very heavy crude oil, in the world. They cover a large area of approximately 54,000 square miles, roughly centered on the boomtown of Fort McMurray.
These oil sands contain approximately 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen in-place. This is comparable to the world's total reserves of conventional petroleum. These oil sands are more difficult and more expensive to exploit than more conventional sources of crude. However, the world's demand for oil will almost certainly increase going forward with emerging markets driving much of this increase. As demand for oil increases, there will be increasing demand for the development of unconventional oil resources to meet this need. As the Athabasca oil sands are one of the largest deposits of unconventional crude oil anywhere in the world, the area will be a center of development going forward. Clearly, then, there is an opportunity for investors to profit off of this growth.