Canadian Natural Resources to curtail some heavy oil activity in 2002

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 19 -- Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Calgary, has decided to curtail some heavy oil drilling and production in 2002.

It said recent declines in world oil prices, combined with an unusually high heavy oil differential, contributed to its decision.

In December, CNRL has reduced heavy oil production by 15,000 b/d; it will continue to cap heavy oil production until differentials improve.

It plans to drill only 20 wells for heavy oil in 2002, as compared with 91 in 2001 and 115 in 2000.

It also plans to extend Primrose cyclic steam plant cycles and resulting delays in associated oil recovery cycles until late in the second quarter of 2002.

CNRL still anticipates production growth of approximately 7% in 2002.

The company said as part of its ongoing focus on managing the development, production, and marketing of heavy oil, it has finished a 57-km extension to its ECHO heavy oil pipeline system in Alberta.

The company said transportation control enhances its ability to manage costs.

The expanded system, previously 153-km long, now reaches Beartrap and other CNRL heavy oil properties.

The ECHO system can transport up to 57,000 b/d of hot unblended oil to sales facilities at Hardisty, Alta.

CNRL said that with minor pump upgrades, the high temperature, insulated system can have 75,000 b/d of capacity.

The company said the ECHO system will allow it to save up to $5 million (Can.)/year on transportation costs and earn third-party transportation revenue.

Through the ECHO Pipeline System and other midstream assets, Canadian Natural transports more than 75% of its heavy oil to the international mainline liquids pipelines.

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