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The Athabasca oil sands are large deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada – roughly centred on the boomtown of Fort McMurray. These oil sands, hosted in the McMurray Formation, consist of a mixture of crude bitumen, silica sand, clay minerals, and water. The Athabasca deposit is the largest known reservoir of crude bitumen in the world and the largest of three major oil sands deposits in Alberta, along with the nearby Peace River and Cold Lake deposits. Together, these oil sand deposits lie under 141,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and muskeg and contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum. Although the former CEO of Shell Canada, Clive Mather, estimated Canada's reserves to be 2 trillion barrels or more, the International Energy Agency lists Canada's reserves as being 178 billion barrels. With modern unconventional oil production technology, at least 10% of these deposits, or about 170 billion barrels were considered to be economically recoverable at 2006 prices, making Canada's total proven reserves the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia's. The Athabasca deposit is the only large oil sands reservoir in the world which is suitable for large-scale surface mining, although most of it can only be produced using more recently developed in-situ technology. (via Freebase)