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Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Go North to See "Neat" Alberta Oil Sands Firsthand

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates flew into northeastern Alberta, Canada, yesterday (Monday) for a "quiet" visit to a multi-billion dollar project that, in effect, extracts oil from rocks.

The Calgary Herald reports on its website tonight (Tuesday) that Buffett and Gates were impressed by their tour of the Canadian Natural ResourcesHorizon oil sands development north of the small, but booming, city of Fort McMurray, roughly 1600 miles northwest from Omaha.

While the company would only confirm that Buffett and Gates got a tour, the newspaper quotes an official from their co-host, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers as saying, "They (Buffett and Gates) were exercising curiosity, basically saying, 'Wow, this is neat.'"

The paper also cites a source as saying the two multi-billionaires came to satisfy "their own curiosity" but also "with investment in mind."

Last fall, an investor attending a private gathering with Buffett in Toronto reported that he expressed interest in Alberta's oil sands, in part because it's a known resource and thus not as risky as speculative drilling for oil.

Today's Calgary Herald piece notes that the oil sands industry has been heavily criticized by environmental groups and some U.S. mayors over its impact on air and water quality.

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Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com