Well-Oiled Machine

With a push from Exxon, Alberta's tar sands are poised to increase oil production to Saudi-like levels

Todd Korol / Aurora Select for TIME

Syncrude's Crisby on a mine shovel. It holds enough tar sand to yield 50 bbl. of oil.

Correction Appended: June 3, 2008

Standing on a wooden platform located deep inside his open-pit mine, Pat Crisby, a plainspoken Newfoundlander, makes a startling observation. "We move enough dirt to fill the SkyDome in 48 hours," says Crisby, a fiftyish manager at Syncrude Canada Ltd., a company that is the Incredible Hulk of North America's biggest and richest resource deposit: Alberta's oil sands. The idea of filling the 60,000-seat home of the Toronto Blue Jays (now called Rogers Centre) with sticky, bitumen-laced soil from the Aurora North mine in a weekend is mind-boggling. But it puts the business conducted on...

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