May 29, 2019 8:17 am
Updated: May 29, 2019 8:18 pm

CNRL buying Devon Energy’s Canadian oil assets for $3.8B

WATCH: U.S.-based Devon Energy has decided to sell its Canadian assets to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Global's Tomasia DaSilva has reaction to the sale and looks at what it means for an already troubled industry.

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One of Canada’s largest oilsands producers is getting bigger in a $3.78-billion buyout that hastens the exit from the sector of yet another major foreign-owned rival.

Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. announced Wednesday it is buying the northern Alberta oilsands and heavy oil operations that Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. put on the block in February.

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Canadian Natural shares fell in early trading in Toronto, but rebounded as analysts rated the price of about $29,400 per flowing barrel of daily production attractive for the buyer in comparison with other recent deals.

READ MORE: CNRL optimism up on oil curtailments, crude by rail rebound

“The transaction … is a win-win deal for both Devon and Canadian Natural,” said Steve Laut, CNRL’s executive vice-chairman, on a conference call with analysts.

“(It gives) Devon the ability to achieve its objective of exiting Canada and Canadian Natural the opportunity to leverage our economies of scale, our technical and operating expertise and capture significant synergies to add incremental value from these very high-quality assets.”

The Devon assets represent the “textbook definition of excellent fit,” Laut said, adding his company has already identified $135 million in synergistic annual cost savings it aims to achieve by the end of the year.

READ MORE: Cenovus Energy buying most of ConocoPhillips’ Canadian assets for $17.7B

On a map in a website presentation, Devon’s 108,200-barrel-per-day Jackfish oilsands project south of Fort McMurray is shown adjacent to Canadian Natural’s Kirby North and Kirby South projects.

All produce raw bitumen crude using steam-assisted gravity drainage technology, where steam is injected into a horizontal well to melt the heavy sticky oil and allow it to drip into a parallel well to be pumped to surface.

Watch below (March 9, 2017): Royal Dutch Shell says it has signed two agreements to sell its undeveloped oilsands interests in Canada to CNRL for a net consideration of US$7.25 billion.

Another map shows Devon’s conventional heavy oil properties, which produce about 20,100 bpd, farther to the south and surrounded by Canadian Natural lands.

Devon’s production is currently restricted to about 122,800 bpd because of Alberta government production curtailments.

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

“This transaction creates value for our shareholders by achieving a clean and timely exit from Canada, while accelerating efforts to focus exclusively on our high-return U.S. oil portfolio,” Devon chief executive Dave Hager said in a statement on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s deal is Canadian Natural’s seventh major acquisition since 2014, when it struck a $3.12-billion agreement to buy most of Devon’s non-heavy oil Canadian assets, according to a report from Wood Mackenzie.

“This continues the trend of Canadian-domiciled consolidation that we’ve seen since 2016,” said analyst Stephen Kallir.

“In 2020, the oilsands will produce 3.3 billion bpd and just four companies now account for 85 per cent of that volume.”

Wood Mackenzie points out Canadian Natural stands to be the largest producer in Canada with 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day when the latest Devon deal closes.

That would make it the 25th largest producer in the world and eighth largest if you don’t include companies owned by government.

The exit of Devon from the oilsands follows recent Canadian oilsands asset sales by foreign companies including Norway’s Statoil, France’s Total SA, Arkansas-based Murphy Oil and Houston-based ConocoPhillips.

The deal is expected to close by June 27, but its effective date is Jan. 1, 2019. The accumulated cash flow from the first half of the year means Canadian Natural will only have to borrow $3.25 billion in a three-year term loan to finance the deal, said chief financial officer Mark Stainthorpe.

Watch below (Dec. 14, 2018): The mountain resort town of Whistler, B.C. is asking Alberta energy company CNRL to help pay for the costs of climate change. Alberta provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon explains why.

The company expects to be able to continue to maintain its dividend and share buyback programs and its balance sheet will continue to strengthen despite the new debt, he added.

Canadian Natural is moving about 14,000 bpd of oil on railcars and is looking at adding more, but the Devon production comes with sufficient market access, said president Tim McKay.

Canadian Natural says it will add about 735 new employees from Devon, including both field and head office personnel.

The company said the deal includes 607,000 hectares of land, of which 405,000 hectares are undeveloped. The lands contain proved reserves of about 730 million barrels of oil.

By year-end, Canadian Natural’s production mix is expected to be 250,000 bpd of thermal oil, 450,000 bpd of oilsands mining and upgrading, 150,000 bpd of conventional light crude oil and natural gas liquids, 120,000 bpd of heavy crude oil and 220,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of natural gas.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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