With the increased desire for North American energy independence, there has been a recent increase in interest in assessment of unconventional resources in the United States, including oil sands. To that end, the Alabama Oil Sands Program (AOSP) has been established at the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) and the Alabama State Oil and Gas Board (OGB). With this program, the GSA and OGB will provide a focus for oil sands activities and initiatives in the state, in order to assist in the realization of potential economic and societal benefits that accrue from prudent, orderly, and environmentally sound development. The AOSP will evaluate and develop appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks. Alberta, Canada, has a long history of assessment and development of oil sands area; therefore, when developing a research and development program, it is prudent to examine similarities and differences between Alberta and Alabama, both in the resource itself and in development and regulatory pathways.