Yet Another Multi-National Oil Company Mulls Exiting Canada’s Oil Sands

After more than a decade of the world’s oil giants actively buying up assets in Northern Alberta, the trend has reversed in a major way.

In the last couple of months alone, two major oil producers announced they were exiting the region. In March, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) announced it was selling most of its oil sands assets for $8.5 billion. A few weeks later, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) sold its 50% interest in the Foster Creek Christina Lake Project for $17.1 billion.

Both buyers were Canadian companies. Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ)(NYSE:CNQ) gobbled up Shell’s assets, while long-time ConocoPhillips partner Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSX:CVE)(NYSE:CVE) did the logical thing and bought its partner out. Cenovus is already the operator at Foster Creek Christina Lake.

The latest company to consider getting out of the oil sands is Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX). According to people close to the situation, Chevon has contacted investment bankers about selling its 20% interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project. The sale could fetch as much as $2.5 billion.

The logical buyer appears to be Canadian Natural Resources. Once its deal with Shell closes, it will own 70% of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project. Chevron currently owns 20% while Shell will retain a 10% stake.

Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU)(NYSE:SU) could be an active bidder as well. It has spent more than $5 billion in the region since the beginning of 2016 on consolidating its ownership position in the Syncrude Oil Sands Project. It has the balance sheet strength to stomach a potential deal.