ConocoPhillips and EnCana Corporation have entered into an agreement to create an integrated, North American heavy oil business consisting of strong upstream and downstream assets.
The venture will be comprised of two 50/50 operating partnerships, one Canadian upstream partnership and one U.S. downstream partnership, with both companies contributing equally valued assets and equity for future capital expenditures.
The upstream partnership will consist of EnCana’s Foster Creek and Christina Lake projects, both located in the prolific eastern flank of the Athabasca oilsands in northeast Alberta. The assets hold independently estimated recoverable bitumen of more than 6.5 billion barrels, and the partnership’s goal is to increase production from the current 50,000 barrels per day (BPD) to 400,000 BPD of bitumen by 2015. The partnership plans to transport and sell the bitumen blend (an approximate 50/50 blend of bitumen and synthetic oil) at major Alberta trading hubs. ConocoPhillips and EnCana will each own 50 percent of the partnership. EnCana will be the operator and managing partner of the upstream partnership, which will be headquartered in Calgary.
The downstream partnership will consist of ConocoPhillips’ Wood River and Borger refineries, located in Roxana, Illinois, and Borger, Texas, respectively. The partnership plans to expand heavy oil processing capacity at these facilities from approximately 60,000 BPD to 550,000 BPD (30,000 BPD to 275,000 BPD of bitumen handling capacity) by 2015. Total throughput at the two facilities is expected to increase from the current 450,000 BPD to 600,000 BPD over the same time period. The partnership may further expand heavy oil processing capacity at these locations or in Alberta to match bitumen production. ConocoPhillips and EnCana will each own 50 percent of the partnership; however, ConocoPhillips will hold a disproportionate economic interest in Borger for two years: 85 percent in 2007 and 65 percent in 2008. The partnership plans to purchase and transport all feedstocks for the refineries and sell the refined products. ConocoPhillips will be the operator and managing partner of the downstream partnership, which will be headquartered in Houston.
“With this strategic alliance, ConocoPhillips strengthens its presence in North America by repositioning 10 percent of its U.S. downstream business to access a large upstream resource base. The upstream partnership also will provide a secure and stable source of oil supplies that can be refined into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products needed by U.S. consumers, as well as a significant market for Canada’s abundant oilsands resources,” said Jim Mulva, ConocoPhillips’ chairman and chief executive officer. “This venture builds on our current and planned heavy-oil expansion work at both Wood River and Borger, and provides a stable, long-term supply to our U.S. refineries. The venture also enables ConocoPhillips’ participation in two best-in-class Canadian oilsands projects, and provides the opportunity to leverage our existing downstream capabilities. The transaction is expected to enhance ConocoPhillips’ near- and long-term production growth, providing a steady, stable source of resource additions. We look forward to working closely with EnCana and learning from their experiences as a leader in heavy-oil development and SAGD technology.”
“During the past year, we undertook a process to identify the best industry partners for maximizing the value recognition of our sizeable in-situ oilsands resources. These innovative partnerships achieve this objective by strategically aligning about two-thirds of our industry-leading oilsands projects with an industry-leading refiner. ConocoPhillips brings a wealth of heavy oil refining expertise and widely-adopted coking technology to our integrated heavy oil business,” said Randy Eresman, EnCana’s president and chief executive officer. “These partnerships provide greater certainty of execution for our oilsands projects by reducing cost and price risk and increasing confidence in our ability to achieve economic returns. They also give EnCana immediate participation in the North American refining industry and provide options for future upgrader development.”
Each partnership will have a management committee composed of three ConocoPhillips and three EnCana representatives, with each company holding equal voting rights. ConocoPhillips and EnCana personnel associated with the partnerships will remain employees of their current respective employers.
Both ConocoPhillips and EnCana are committed to being leaders in the area of health, safety and environmental stewardship. Specifically, the companies expect to jointly fund and pursue research and technology development efforts aimed at minimizing the environmental footprint of the partnerships’ upstream and downstream operations.
The transaction, which is subject to the execution of final definitive agreements and regulatory approval, is expected to close January 2, 2007. Both companies’ boards of directors have approved the transaction.
JP Morgan acted as advisor to ConocoPhillips on this transaction, and Credit Suisse acted as advisor to EnCana.