THE GLOBAL recession has, at least temporarily, put the brakes on for Canada's oil sands industry. But it can bounce back, says a November 2009 report from the France-based International Energy Agency (IEA), if environmental and economic challenges are met.

Canadian oil sand resources are located almost entirely in the province of Alberta, occurring primarily in three areas - Peace River, Athabasca and Cold Lake. According to the Government of Alberta, current capacity is 1.757m bbl/day, up from 2008's 1.2m bbl/day - itself a doubling of 2000's capacity, and a tripling of 1990's capacity.

According to the US-based Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), Alberta's capacity was equal to 1.4% of global oil production, and to roughly 6% of total US oil consumption, 9% of US oil imports, and 24% of US oil production.

"Since 2004, Canada has been the biggest source of US oil imports," says Michael Levi, senior fellow for energy and the environment for CFR.

But current capacity could have been 3.4m bbl/day had $150bn (

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