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Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Canada OKs PetroChina oil sands investment

AFP , MONTREAL

Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement said on Tuesday he had approved a US$1.7 billion acquisition by PetroChina of two Athabasca Oil Sands Corporation projects in the province of Alberta.

The deal gives PetroChina International (中國石油天然氣) 60 percent control of ­Athabasca’s MacKay and Dover oil sands deposits.

“I am satisfied that the investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada,” Clement said in a statement.

The minister said the Chinese company made a commitment to contribute more than US$250 million to cover its share of developing the oil sand projects over the next three years, as well as boosting employment and managing a regional office in the area for a period of five years.

The oil sand deposits of MacKay and Dover are projected to yield five million barrels of oil, Athabasca said.

The Oct. 31 PetroChina-­Athabasca agreement is one of the top oil sand deals reached in ­Canada since it slumped into economic recession in late last year.

At an estimated 175 billion barrels, the oil sands in western Canada are the second-largest oil reserve in the world behind Saudi Arabia, but they were long neglected, except by local companies, because of high extraction costs.

Since 2000, skyrocketing crude oil prices and improved extraction methods have made exploitation more economical.

The have also lured several multinational oil companies to mine the sands, but foreign investments remain cyclical.

To date, the US remains the largest consumer of bitumen from the oil sands.

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