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Ottawa Citizen: Athabasca group expands oilsands project Oilsands: Shell hurt by falling natural gas prices

Lead owner Shell Canada says Q4 profit fell 64 per cent

BY GORDON JAREMKO

EDMONTON • Alberta’s youngest oilsands producer, the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, yesterday unveiled a six- year construction program to erect four more Edmonton- area bitumen upgraders, expand a Fort McMurray, Alta., mine and open up a new pit.

Also under study is a new Ontario upgrader and refinery in Sarnia.

Athabasca aims to build four new plants producing 100,000 barrels per day each in order to process all of its low- grade bitumen output into refineryready oil, Shell Canada president Clive Mather said.

Cost estimates were under review and not disclosed. But the project’s 60- per- cent lead owner, Shell Canada, raised its production target to 770,000 barrels a day from its former 500,000 barrels daily.

Athabasca minority partners Western Oil Sands and Chevron Canada, which each own 20 per cent, will make decisions on participating in construction as starting times for the stages roll around.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC, while seeking to buy out Shell Canada’s minority shareholders for $ 8.7 billion, supports the oilsands growth program with its established 78- per- cent majority ownership, Mr. Mather said.

Mr. Mather said Shell will not be “ distracted” by market gyrations that cut oil to $ 50 U. S. a barrel this month, or the lowest price since mid- 2005 and 36 per cent below its $ 78.40 peak last summer. “ Prices will fluctuate. Costs will fluctuate as well,” Mr. Mather said.

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