Skip to main content

The turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East has again highlighted the strategic importance of Canada's oil sands. Environmentalists hate them -- and there is no doubt that they are a major polluter and a blight on the landscape of northern Alberta.

But they are safe, secure, and close to the United States. That counts for a lot these days!

The Claymore Oil Sands Sector ETF invests in companies that are highly focused on oil-sands production and expect to increase their output over the next decade.

Story continues below advertisement

Its benchmark is something called the "Sustainable Oil Sands Sector Index," which uses five factors to select companies that best represent the "current and future production" of the oil sands. They are:

--current oil sands production volume

--projected 10-year forward production

--oil sands production as a percentage of total production

--market liquidity

--market capitalization

The fund was launched in October 2006. The turbulence in the Middle East has already led to price increases at the gas pumps but, more important on a macro scale, it is raising alarms about the global supply of crude oil. That makes the Canadian oil sands -- which hold the world's second-largest reserves -- even more strategically important, despite environmental concerns.

Story continues below advertisement

As a result, energy stocks generally, and those involved in the oil sands in particular, are moving higher. This ETF allows us to participate in future gains.

The fund holds a basket of 17 stocks. Most of the companies represented are not exclusively committed to the oil sands, and in fact some have a relatively small footprint there at present. But all derive a significant portion of their revenue from the oil sands or expect to do so in the future.

The largest positions are in:

Suncor, 9.33% of assets

Imperial Oil, 8.76%

Canadian Oil Sands, 8.57%

Story continues below advertisement

Cenovus Energy, 7.87%

BlackPearl Resources, 7.5%

The ETF gained 22.7% in 2007, its first full year of operation. But it then plunged 54.2% when the bottom fell out of the oil market in the second half of 2008.

That was partially recovered in 2009 with an advance of 59%, which was followed by a gain of 15.3% in 2010. The fund has gained roughly 13% so far in 2011.

To sum up, this ETF is suitable for aggressive investors who like its capital gains potential. The fund's volatility indicates it should not be regarded as a buy-and-hold security.

Use it to take advantage of the current surge in oil prices -- and be prepared to exit at any time.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to