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While analyzing which oil sands stocks to buy in today's bear market, it is important to first obtain an understanding of the macro oil sands development in Alberta, Canada. April 2012 oil sands production data was just made available, with May oil production data expected in the second week of July 2012.

We provide below a summary of the activity in the oil sands in Alberta, hoping to provide insights into which oil sands stocks are buys and which oil sands stocks you should look at shorting and/or selling.

The most notable recent production increase has been from the continued ramp-up in volumes from the Suncor (SU) Firebag expansion, with production prom this project averaging 100,000 bbl/day in April 2012. This production average compares to the new bitumen production design capacity of 130,000 bbl/day and is up from a 2011 year end exit rate of 80,000 bbl/day.

In situ production from the oil sands reached another new record high in April 2012, as total production was approximately 750,000 bbl/day. The most recent increase in oil sands production has been driven by SAGD projects under development by various oil stocks in addition to the above increase production by Suncor at Firebag.

The Devon (DVN) Jackfish phase two expansion also had a significant impact on April 2012 oil sands production. This oil stock, which trades on the North American stock markets, averages production of 53,000 bbl/day from its Jackfish project - which was up from an 2011 exit rate of 47,500 bbl/day.

Canadian Natural's (CNQ) Primrose project averaged approximately 90,000 bbl/day in April 2012. For this oil stock which trades on the North American stock markets, this is a significant jump, as for the first quarter of Q1 2012, the Primrose oil sands project averaged 79,000 bbl/day.

This increase in SAGD production in recent years has been quite rapid, as it has gone from various oil stocks producing 125,000 bbl/day to currently averaging around 500,000 bbld/day and will average approximately 600,000 bbl/day in 2014.

These higher production levels will be driven by several oil stock's oil sands projects, including Canadian Natural's Kirby oil sand project Cenovus (CVE) / ConocoPhillips (COP) Christina Lake and Foster Creek, ConocoPhillips / Total (TOT) Surmont, Husky (OTCQB:HUSKF) / BP (BP) Sunrise, JACOS/Nexen (NXY) Hangingstone, MEG Christina Lake and Southern Pacific Mackay.

Imperial Oil's (IMO) (controlled by Exxon Mobil: XOM) Cold Lake project continues to provide the largest amount of oil sands production at over 150,000 bbl/day in April 2012.

Additional information of value to investors investing in oil stocks trading on the North American stock markets are the drilling results and related production information for the various oil and gas stocks. To view this data, see Oil Stocks Western Canadian Drilling Results.

Source: April 2012 Oil Sands Production Update: Which Stocks To Buy In Today's Bear Market