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Oil sands coping on the cusp of change

Canada's big four producers are profitable at $50 oil, but the growth outlook is murky

On 1 August, former Suncor chief executive Rick George died of complications from leukemia at the age of 67. The passing was significant because more than any other man, George is widely acknowledged as the one who ushered the oil sands into the modern era. In 1995, George took over a struggling Suncor and completely reorganised its oil sands division, which had been pumping heavy crude since 1968. As today, he took over at a time when the oil sands' fate looked bleak and many thought it was too expensive to compete. He responded by changing the face of the oil sands, retiring the massive draglines and replacing them with the iconic trucks and shovels that have become emblematic of today's

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