Buffett, Gates tour Canadian oil sands operation

CALGARY, Alberta Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:39pm EDT

Heavy equipment mines the oil tar sands at Syncrude's Aurora mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta in this May 23, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files

Heavy equipment mines the oil tar sands at Syncrude's Aurora mine near Fort McMurray, Alberta in this May 23, 2006 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Todd Korol/Files

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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the world's richest men, toured Canadian Natural Resources Ltd's (CNQ.TO) Horizon oil sands project near Fort McMurray, Alberta, this week.

According to local media reports, Gates and Buffett visited the C$9.3 billion ($8.7 billion) project on Monday. Horizon is slated to begin operations later this year.

The men were given details on the Canadian oil industry by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

"We were asked to come up and do a short presentation," said Greg Stringham, vice-president of markets and fiscal policy at the association.

With reserves of about 173 billion barrels, the oil sands are the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East. The region's producers plan to spend more than C$100 billion developing the resource and output is expected to nearly triple to 2.8 million barrels a day by 2015.

Buffett, the world's richest person, according to Forbes magazine, is chairman of diversified holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N). Neither he nor Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Gates could be immediately reached for comment. Canadian Natural Resources refused to add any details to the report.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)

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