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Reuters: Canadian Natural could become a target -Barron’s

Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:19pm ET

NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO: Quote, Profile, Research), one of North America’s largest independent oil and gas companies, could become a takeover target of a major oil company because of its large presence in the Alberta oil sands, one of the world’s most promising energy regions, according to Barron’s.

But John Langille, a Canadian Natural vice chairman, said selling isn’t on the horizon.

“We want to continue to grow our company into a very strong independent,” he told Barron’s in the newspaper’s Oct. 30 edition. “Selling to someone else is not part of our game plan.”

Through acquisitions Canadian Natural has grown from tiny producer to a company with a stock market capitalization of $28 billion, Barron’s said.

The company’s promising oil-sands project in Alberta is expected to start producing crude in 2008. The stock could jump in the next two years as the project nears completion, Barron’s said.

The company aims to boost daily energy output, which is now equal to 600,000 barrels a day and split between oil and gas, to 1 million barrels by the end of 2012, Barron’s said.

“Given the strength of the company’s asset base and given how much of the world’s oil and gas reserves are in inhospitable places, we don’t think we can lose a lot,” Bruce Berkowitz, who heads Fairholme Capital Management, told Barron’s. Fairholme owns shares in Canadian Natural.

“And in the best case, it’s a grand slam,” he told Barron’s.

The stock was recently boosted by Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) offer to buy out minority holders of Shell Canada (SHC.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) for $7 billion. Shell Canada’s market value is attributed to its 60 percent stake in the Athabasca project, one of three major oil-sands projects operating, Barron’s said.

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