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PetroChina acquires 20 per cent stake in Shell’s Groundbirch shale gas lands

Deal could be part of a string of recent investments by Chinese oil companies looking to capitalize on Canada’s vast energy resources.


February 3, 2012
by The Canadian Press

CALGARY—PetroChina is buying part of Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s shale gas lands in northeastern B.C.

Peter Voser, CEO of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, confirmed that PetroChina has agreed to buy a 20 per cent interest in some of Shell’s Groundbirch lands.

The purchase price has yet to be announced.

Chinese energy companies have been looking to Canada to potentially fuel China’s growing need for energy—from coal and oil to natural gas.

Plans have been proposed to build pipelines to the West Coast to ship oil and liquefied natural gas for eventual tanker delivery across the Pacific Ocean to Asia.

Northern Alberta’s oilsands reserves have generated major interest from Chinese companies. PetroChina recently acquired a 100 per cent interest in the MacKay River development and another state-owned outfit, Sinopec, acquiring a nine per cent stake in the Syncrude Canada Ltd. mine a few years ago.

But University of Alberta professor Wenran Jiang said other types of energy assets are also piquing China’s interest.

“There’s a fairly clear… shift of emphasis from the oilsands assets to conventional oil and gas and shale,” he said.

Sinopec bought conventional producer Daylight Energy Ltd. last year for $2.2 billion. PetroChina and natural gas giant Encana had been looking to work together on B.C. shale assets, but a deal fell through last year.

Likely adding to the B.C. assets’ attractiveness to PetroChina is the fact that Shell is one of many companies looking to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal off Canada’s West Coast, said Jiang.

“These are all connected. If China’s going to invest very heavily in our oilsands or conventional oil and gas and shale and all the others, it would only be logical that they would want to look at shipping options,” he said.