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Shell speeds up exit from oil sands, selling stake in Canadian Natural Resources

Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSA) has decided to sell its roughly $4.1-billion stake in Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) as part of planned exit from Canada’s oil sands sector that could become one of the country’s one of the biggest-ever equity sales.

The energy giant, which grabbed its interest in the Canadian oil sands producer earlier this year, is already in the process of hiring a financial adviser for the sale, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The world’s second largest publicly traded oil company, which is in the midst of an investment push for renewable energy, had announced in March it was not longer interested in the oil sands sector.

At the time, it agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets for $8.5 billion and, as part of that deal, Shell bought about 98 million Canadian Natural shares, roughly 8.8 % of CNRL’s outstanding shares, currently valued at about $4.1 billion.

The stake sale could be one of the biggest-ever equity sales in Canada, only comparable to TransCanada Corp’s offering in March last year, which raised Cdn$4.4 billion via the sale of subscription receipts.

The news doesn’t come as a surprise for those following the latest developments in the oil sands sector. Last month, Suncor Energy (TSX, NYSE:SU) CEO Steve Williams said on a conference call with analysts he didn’t believe the “exodus” from the Alberta oil sands by big international companies was “quite finished yet,” adding there were “known sellers out there if you look.”

The company, Canada’s largest oil and gas producer, said then that if foreign multinationals continued to exit the sector, there will be opportunities for local firms, including Suncor, to make further purchases in the sector.

Alberta’s oil sands hold the world’s third-largest crude reserves, but they are also among the most expensive operations due to their remote location and energy-intensive production methods.

Source: www.mining.com

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