Wood Buffalo Economic Development

Key Industries

Energy in everything.

Wood Buffalo is synonymous with the oil sands. It is perhaps the boldest energy initiative ever undertaken and one that is calling on best practices while innovating better ones, but oil is not the only game in town. Other industries are flourishing around the oil sands activity.

Oil and gasOil and Gas

At just over 170 billion barrels, oil sands in Alberta are the third largest oil reserves in the world and represent an astounding 97% of Canada’s oil reserves.

Global oil reserves

Global oil reserves

The impact of the oil sands on Alberta and other world economies is big. The contribution to Canada’s GDP could reach over $2.0 trillion. Out of that $2.0 trillion, the GDP impact of oil sands investment and operations is estimated to be over $1.9 trillion in Alberta alone. As a result of new oil sands investments employment in Canada is expected to grow from 75,000 jobs in 2010 to 905,000 jobs in 2035.

For every $1 million of investments or additional demand for bitumen, approximately six jobs are created in Canada, of which close to five are in Alberta.

The rich Athabasca Oil Sands deposits are located in the heart of Wood Buffalo and have fuelled unprecedented growth in the region. Looking forward over the next two decades we have over $500 billion in combined oil sands investment – and that’s just in Wood Buffalo alone. Our annual operational expenditures are expected to grow from $7.4 billion to $23.1 billion in 2030.


Oil sands projects

  • Oil Sands Projects 2010
  • Estimate Projection Oil Sands Projects 2020Estimate Projection Oil Sands Projects 2020
  • Estimate Projection Oil Sands Projects 2030Estimate Projection Oil Sands Projects 2030
  • 2010
  • Estimate Projection 2020
  • Estimate Projection 2030
Bitumen Extraction Method
  • Mine
  • In-Situ
  • Fort McMurray

This equates to nearly 7 million barrels per day by 2030.

The oil sands are also generating and diversifying growth of other industries and areas of commerce. Research and development focused on environment-friendly technologies and innovation will inform new energy options. Alberta was also the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate greenhouse gas reduction on large-scale industrial projects, leading to innovative developments to achieve that reduction. To learn more about oil sands development, click here.

Wood Buffalo. We are the oil sands capital.


Oil is not the only resource industry in Wood Buffalo. The area also supports several major forestry operations facilities. Northland Forest Products’ 55 full time and 150 seasonal employees produce 225,000 board feet per day in a sustainable, environment-focused operation. Both Alberta Pacific Forest industries and Millar Western Forest Products hold timber rights in Wood Buffalo.



As of December 31 there were over 120 projects proposed, planned, under construction, or recently completed in the Wood Buffalo region, projects valued at over 128 billion dollars. Fully 36.6% of these initiatives are infrastructure and residential projects. With road development, including two new interchanges and a bridge, and with a major expansion of the airport scheduled for completion in 2014, Wood Buffalo is quickly becoming an easy destination for travelers. With residential and local business development in communities including Parson’s Creek and Saline Creek it’s becoming even easier to stay and call it home.

Top 5 Major Infrastructure Projects in Wood Buffalo, Announced, Proposed, Under Construction or Recently Completed:

As at December 31, 2011
Company Name Project Description

Cost in $ (Millions)

Alberta Transportation Twinning Highway 63

$ 940.00

Alberta Transportation Thickwood and Confederation Interchanges

$ 300.00

Fort McMurray Regional Airport Authority Airport Expansion and Upgrage

$ 247.00

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Athabasca Water Treatment Plant Upgrades and Expansion

$ 161.50

Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo 2011 Road Rehabilitation and Infrastructure Projects

$ 153.00

An exciting new development in the Wood Buffalo region is the expansion of the airport, a facility that will soon have the capability to provide customs services, handle international flights, and process 1.5 million passengers annually. Development is proceeding on schedule and under-budget, and the airport expansion is on target to handle the largest increase in traffic of all Canadian airports. The date for the official opening of the expanded facility is set for April 2014. These changes will allow the residents of Wood Buffalo to stay connected to the world for business, work, and play.


From the world-class rapids at Fort Fitzgerald to the Bison, Whooping Cranes, and other attractions of Canada’s largest national park, Wood Buffalo is a magnet for adventure-seekers from around the world. The oil sands site itself is becoming a major sight-to-see for visitors eager to study the best environmental practices and learn about reclamation technology. Eager to display their production technology and environmental initiatives many energy companies offer tour programs through Fort McMurray Tourism.


Festival and Events:

  • Harvest of Hope
  • Chateau Boo and Junior Boo Haunted House
  • Keyano Foundation Annual Black-Tie Gala
  • Festival of Trees
  • Santa Claus Parade
  • New Year’s Eve Craze and Fireworks
  • interPLAY Performing Arts Festival
  • winterPLAY Festival
  • Shootout on the Snye
  • Spring and Fall Home and Leisure Trade Shows
  • Wood Buffalo Regional Science Fair
  • Fort McMurray Women’s Show
  • Canada Day Parade
  • Canada Rocks Festival and Fireworks
  • Summer Solstice Picnic in the Park
  • Big Spirit Blueberry Festival
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters Wine Auction
  • Spring Fling
  • Relay for Life

Wood Buffalo is more than meets the eye.