CNOOC to acquire Opit Canada

Updated: 2011-07-21 09:12

By Zhou Yan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) Ltd, the country's biggest offshore oil producer by capacity, said on Wednesday that it agreed to acquire cash-strapped oil sands producer Opti Canada Inc for $2.1 billion in cash and debt, a week after Opti filed for bankruptcy protection.

The aggregate value of the transaction will include $1.25 billion in cash for Opti's shares and some notes. CNOOC will also assume $825 million of Opti's debt, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

CNOOC to acquire Opit Canada

Headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) Ltd in Beijing. If the acquisition of Opti Canada Inc is approved, CNOOC's reserves will rise by 5 percent to 3.15 billion barrels of oil equivalent. [Photo/China Daily]

The deal is subject to authorities' approval in China and Canada and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, said Zhong Hua, chief financial officer of CNOOC Ltd.

The major assets of Opti Canada, which filed for bankruptcy protection on July 13, include a 35 percent working interest in the Long Lake and three other project areas in northeastern Alberta province, Canada.

Before royalties, Opti's working interest share of raw bitumen reserves and resources on its oil sands leases is estimated to be 195 million barrels of proved reserves, CNOOC said.

The Long Lake project is expected to produce about 72,000 barrels of bitumen a day at full production.

The company's shares in Hong Kong fell more than 3 percent on Wednesday, the most in three months, after the acquisition was announced.

Zhong said that the acquisition will not contribute to CNOOC's net profit this year.

"It's a strategic move. Oil companies such as CNOOC can extend their industry chain by participating in oil sands and other unconventional oil," said He Wei, a senior analyst at BOCOM International Holding Co, an investment bank headquartered in Hong Kong.

CNOOC acquired a 16.69 percent stake of MEG, a Canadian oil sands company, for C$150 million ($158.48 million) in 2005. MEG is estimated to have more than 4 billion barrels of geological bitumen in its 52 contiguous sections in Alberta.

Speaking of the Opti deal, Yang Hua, CEO of Hong Kong-listed CNOOC Ltd, said: "We are pleased to expand our presence in the oil sands business after our successful investment in MEG."

After the acquisition, CNOOC's proven reserves will rise by 5 percent to 3.15 billion barrels of oil equivalent, while its production will reach 910,091 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

Canada owns one of the world's biggest oil sands reserves. The country is estimated to have about 175 billion barrels of recoverable reserves of oil, the second-largest after Saudi Arabia. Most of the reserves are in the oil sands located in Alberta.

PetroChina, China's biggest energy company by output, acquired a 60 percent stake of Athabasca Oil Sand Corp's two oil sands projects in Alberta province for $1.7 billion in 2009.

"We have ample cash in hand and will continue to pursue other acquisition opportunities that are in line with our company's strategies," CNOOC's Zhong said.


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