Canadian Manufacturing

PetroChina acquires 40 per cent stake from Calgary-based oil sands firm

Athabasca Oil Sands sells stake in oil development for $680 million; PetroChina purchased the other 60 per cent in a $1.9 billion deal last year

CALGARY—Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. has sold its remaining 40 per cent interest in the MacKay River oil sands project to a unit of Chinese oil giant PetroChina in a deal worth $680 million.

The deal gives PetroChina full ownership of the MacKay River project, one of northern Alberta’s newest oilsands developments.

The transaction continues a trend of Chinese companies acquiring mines,  energy producers and other resources companies in Canada and around the world to secure future supplies of minerals, steel, oil and gas and other raw materials for its rapidly growing economy.

Athabasca sold PetroChina a 60 per cent stake in the project last year.

The Calgary-based oilsands producer says it sold the remaining stake because it believe the long term prospects of the company are enhanced by deploying its capital and resources into other projects.

It will save about $190 million in capital spending this year from the divestiture.

The $1.9-billion Athabasca-PetroChina deal last year also included the Dover project, which is expected to obtain regulatory approval by 2013.

The first phase of the MacKay River project is expected to produce 35,000 barrels per day, eventually expanding to 150,000 barrels.

Construction of the project will begin next month with startup targeted for 2014.

It will use steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) technology to extract bitumen, where steam underground to melt tar-like oilsands deposits. The oil is collected through a second pipeline and pumped to the surface.

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