The oil sands industry showcased its resiliency in Q4 2015, but the biggest challenge to date will be Q1 2016. Oil sands operators continue to cut operating costs while getting a helping hand from depressed natural gas prices. Producers posted positive operating margins in Q4 2015 and as long as companies are making an operating profit the possibility of shutting in is doubtful. The first quarter of 2016 will further test producers resolve as many will likely post negative operating margins.In Q4 earnings a trend emerged as several oil sands producers announced that they would be increasing oil sands production output through de-bottlenecking and optimisation efforts. Rather than shutting in, producers have instead focused on bringing costs on a per barrel basis down by increasing production and focusing on optimisation and debottlenecking initiatives.