Canada can profit immensely from its oil industry if it plays its cards wisely and manages to keep project costs at a reasonably low level, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The country can expect an "investment windfall" of up to $1.6 trillion over the next 20 years, if it manages to maintain an attractive investment environment.

As U.S. oil production is expected to stop growing and become flat in the mid-2020s and investments in the Middle East remain uncertain due to the political instability in the region, Canada's oil deposits, especially its oil sands, will start to play a major role on the global oil market. In the years through 2035, Canada's oil sands sector alone will need annual investments of $42 billion, or $840 billion in total. This compares to the $29 billion expected to be invested in the sector this year, as calculated by the Canadian Petroleum Producers Association, the Financial Post reported.

Speaking to the Financial Post's energy editor Yadullah Hussain, the executive director of the IEA Maria van der Hoeven said that Canada has the potential to become a global energy supplier but there are several conditions that have to be taken into account. Firstly, the country will have to bring down the cost of oil sands projects, and secondly, it will have to figure out how to deal with the environmental aspects of production, perhaps with the use of technology, she said.