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Three Reasons You Need to Invest in Tar Sands Today

By Matt Badiali, editor, S&A Resource Report
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Want to earn $195 per day, tax free, on top of your salary?

Go to work in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

One hundred ninety-five dollars is the "live-out allowance" here in Fort McMurray. This place is ground zero for the Athabasca tar-sand boom. That money amounts to hardship pay, and the miners here need it.

Fort McMurray isn't a big town. It has just three exits on the only highway within 100 miles. Forty years ago, there wasn't much here at all. Now it's one of the fastest-growing towns in Canada... and the extra $50,000 or so a year those miners earn puts a lot of juice into the local economy.

I spoke to a mortgage broker here yesterday afternoon. She told me they did a billion dollars in mortgages in Fort McMurray in 2007. You'd have to sell three beachfront condos a day for a year to make that kind of money in Florida. In Fort McMurray, they did it selling mobile homes.

A typical doublewide mobile home costs around $450,000 here. A modest two-bedroom with a garage, under 1,600 square feet, will set you back nearly $700,000.

That isn't likely to decline anytime soon. Everyone is spending money up here, and the population will continue to increase. In 1963, one company mined the tar sands. Now, more than 60 companies are falling over one another for acreage. With oil over $100 a barrel, mining this trillion-barrel deposit is just too profitable, and too safe to ignore.

I see three important factors that set the tar sands apart from nearly every other large petroleum deposit in the world... factors that continue to justify your investments in the area.

1. Canada's oil sector is private. Last week, I talked about the increasing power of state-owned oil companies. In places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, huge government-run companies control all aspects of oil production. Canada's government stays out of the oil-production business.

2. Canada operates under the rule of law. I love Canadian and Australian natural resource investments. These countries have long histories of being investor friendly. Russia and Venezuela have a tendency to screw companies and individual investors.

3. Canada has a short, safe, efficient transportation route to its largest consumer – the United States. Saudi Arabia can't say this. Its oil production is threatened by instability... and the transportation route is half the world. 

These three reasons will drive an explosion in Canadian oil sands. Production will climb from 1.1 million barrels per day in 2006 to 3.8 million barrels per day in 2020... That's 250% growth in just 14 years.

Alberta has 857 projects on the books worth $169 billion. Those projects include everything: mines, electrical generation, parks, biodiesel plants, and roads.

However, the bulk of that money comes from oil-sand development. This is one of the greatest growth stories on the planet right now. And there are lots of ways to get in...

You can buy Suncor Energy and make decent gains, but it's like the Microsoft of the oil sands. Everybody knows about it. I prefer sticking to smaller producers and infrastructure ideas.

I still like Husky Energy for a refining infrastructure play. It's one of Canada's largest and most powerful oil companies... and it counts the brilliant Li Ka-shing (China's richest man) as a big investor. Its early investments in heavy oil refining have made it one of the largest refiners in the region. S&A Oil Report readers are up about 55% on the stock... and I see bigger gains ahead.

Whichever route you choose, I recommend you choose it soon. I believe a long era of high oil prices is ahead... and buying into Athabasca is the safe way to profit.You can also buy natural gas for a play on Canadian oil sand development. Mining and processing the oil sand consumes huge amounts of natural gas. More and more of Canada's natural gas exports to the U.S. will be diverted to the oil sands, which should support North American natural gas prices.

Good investing,

Matt Badiali

Market Notes


Once in a great while, a sector trend becomes so strong, the rising tide lifts every boat in the industry. In the industry that sells transport, drilling, and pumping services to Big Oil, the rising tide is more of a 130-foot wave crashing onto shore. In other words, you could close your eyes, buy almost any oil-service stock right now, and come out ahead this year.

One of Market Notes' frequent guests, Transocean, is up 53% in the past year. It's the world's largest drill-ship operator. You find similar gains in CHC Helicopter (transport), Cameron (valves), Tenaris (drill steel), FMC (wells and transport systems), Nabors (drilling), National Oilwell Varco (drill rigs), Weatherford (drilling systems), and... well... we've run out of space.

No doubt this market is frothy... but for those speculating in 2008, keep this in mind: Skyrocketing oil prices are filling the pockets of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Norway, and Brazil right now. They'll have to spend that cash to find more oil... and that 130-foot wave will continue pushing money into oil services.

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