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Shell to sell entire interest in Canadian Natural Resources for $4.3B

FILE - In this Monday, April 7, 2014 file photo, a flag bearing the company logo of Royal Dutch Shell, flies outside the head office in The Hague, Netherlands. .
FILE - In this Monday, April 7, 2014 file photo, a flag bearing the company logo of Royal Dutch Shell, flies outside the head office in The Hague, Netherlands. . AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Royal Dutch Shell is selling its stake in Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for about $4.3 billion.

The sale of more than 97 million shares represents Shell’s entire interest in CNRL, a roughly eight per cent stake in the company.

READ MORE: CNRL choked back heavy oil output due to pipeline-linked low prices

Shell said in a statement Monday night that proceeds from the sale will contribute to reducing net debt.

The sale, which is being underwritten by Goldman Sachs, RBC Capital Markets, Scotiabank and TD Securities, is expected to complete on Wednesday.

The energy sector on the Toronto Stock Exchange has gained strength in recent weeks as the price of oil has also climbed.

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Canadian Natural shares were down $1.45 at $43.85 in late-morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Shell shares closed at $45.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.

Shell acquired the shares last year when it sold its Alberta oilsands assets to Canadian Natural for $11.1 billion in cash and stock.

READ MORE: Canadian Natural buying Shell, Marathon Alberta oilsands holdings for $12.74B

That deal saw Canadian Natural Resources buy Shell’s 60 per cent stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project which includes a mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., and the Shell-operated Scotford bitumen upgrader and Quest carbon capture project northeast of Edmonton.

Shell said at the time that the deal would allow them to focus on assets such as deepwater oil and gas that offer higher returns on capital. It said that oilsands mining and in-situ operations were no longer a strategic fit for Shell.

In Canada, the company remains focused on its shale oil and gas properties in B.C. and Alberta, along with its refining and chemical businesses near Edmonton.

Other foreign companies that have reduced exposure to the oilsands include Norway’s Statoil, Arkansas-based Murphy Oil and France-based Total SA.

Cenovus Energy bought most of the Canadian assets of Houston-based ConocoPhillips last year.

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Alberta’s oilsands, the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world, are also among the most costly and carbon-intensive to produce from and many companies have reconsidered their exposure.

READ MORE: A Shell report predicted how devastating climate change would be — it’s from 1988