Canadian Natural Resources Buys Shell’s Oil Sands Assets in $7.2-Billion U.S. Deal

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) has agreed to sell its oil sands assets to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ) for $7.2 billion U.S. It will only retain a 10% stake in the Athabasca mining project.

The sale includes Shell’s entire 60% interest in the Athabasca project, all the Peace River project, the Carmon Creek project, and a number of undeveloped leases in the area. In a separate transaction, Canadian Natural and Shell will acquire Marathon Oil Canada Corp, which holds a 20% stake in the Athabasca project. This gives Shell its 10% ownership stake.

Canadian Natural will end up paying $8.5 billion U.S. for the two transactions, consisting of $5.4 billion U.S in cash and $3.1 billion U.S. in newly-issued Canadian Natural shares. The company will issue almost 98 million new shares.

This deal is part of a bigger plan to cut debt. Shell had pledged to cut $30 billion U.S. worth of debt after it acquired BG Group in 2016. With Thursday’s sale, it is nearly two-thirds of the way there. Shell owed more than $92 billion U.S. to creditors as of December 31.

Shell will also take a major hit to its reserves. It previously listed proved and probable reserves of 13.25 billion barrels, two billion of which came from its various oil sands projects.

Simply put, Shell wanted out of the oil sands. Costs in the region are too high versus the current price of crude.

Still, Canadian National shares reacted strongly on the news, soaring 5.9% higher, or $2.34 each, to $41.77 per share. Shell shares were down just 0.5%.