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UPI: Report: Shell eyes other oil sands firms

CALGARY, Alberta, March 19 (UPI) — Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch Shell may be considering deals or takeovers of Canadian oil sands players that need access to refining, the National Post reports.

Last Friday, Royal Dutch took over Shell Canada Ltd. and analysts quoted by the newspaper as saying its next logical target could be Western Oil Sands Inc., a partner in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project.

Royal Dutch’s ownership of Shell Canada climbed from 78 percent to 89.6 percent over the weekend after Canadian shareholders accepted its $8.7 billion, or $45 a share to turn Shell Canada private, the newspaper reported.

Royal Dutch now controls Shell Canada’s assets in the Sable Island offshore natural gas project, its share of the $16.2-billion Mackenzie Valley natural gas pipeline project and a larger part of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project.

Shell Canada holds a 60 percent stake in Athabasca. Chevron Corp. and Western each holds 20 percent. But the partners’ access to the upgrading business goes no further than the end of the next expansion phase that is expected to take production from 155,000 bpd to 255,000 bpd by 2010. The project is ultimately expected to touch 770,000 barrels bpd.

Analysts say this is one reason why Western now is a potential Royal Dutch target.

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