Canadian Natural seeks partner for oilsands project


CALGARY�Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), Calgary, says it is in talks with two groups as part of its quest for a 50% joint venture partner to develop a $6.5 billion (Can.) oilsands project in northern Alberta.

CNRL Chairman Allan Markin said the company is looking for a partner with experience in upgrading and marketing. He said CNRL would like to work with a partner with an existing upgrader because the potential to bring the project on stream is better.

Markin added that project costs could rise above the initial estimate.

Markin said plans or the schedule for the Mic Mac oilsands project will not be changed by the company�s offer earlier this month for Ranger Oil Ltd. (OGJ Online, June 15, 2000). He said CNRL may dispose of some of Ranger�s North Sea assets after the acquisition is completed.

Plans are expected to be finalized in September for the oilsands project, which would include an open-pit mining operation and a heavy oil venture. The project could produce 300,000 b/d within 7 years from its existing leases.

Markin said CNRL could hedge some of its oil production in 2001 to protect cash flow from price volatility as the Mic Mac project gets under way.

Several major oilsands expansions are already in progress in the Fort McMurray and Peace River regions of Alberta. Sponsors include Syncrude Canada Ltd., Suncor Inc., Shell Canada Ltd., and Koch Oil Sands LP, with projected spending totaling more than $20 billion.

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