Foreign oil investors exiting Canada
Capital keeps marching out of Canada’s oil industry, with Kinder Morgan Inc.’s sale of its remaining holdings in the country on Wednesday adding to more than $30 billion of foreign-company divestitures in the past three years.It is not all gloomy in the Candian oil patch. As I noted yesterday, a Canadian company has developed a means to extract hydrogen from the oil sands while leaving the oil in the ground. That would be a major boom to the area if more people switch to hydrogen as a fuel for producing energy and powering vehicle.s Hydrogen is said to not create greenhouse gases when burned.
Pembina Pipeline Corp., based in Calgary, is snapping up Kinder’s Canadian assets and a cross-border pipeline in a $3.3 billion deal. For Houston-based Kinder, the deal completes an exit from a country that has frustrated more than a few companies -- from ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Marathon Oil Corp.
The drumbeat of exits, rare for such a stable oil-producing country, adds an extra layer of gloom for an industry that accounts for about a fifth of Canada’s exports. The energy sector -- centered around Alberta’s oil sands -- has struggled to rebound since the 2014 crash in global oil prices, with capital spending declining for five straight years and job cuts pushing the province’s unemployment rate above 6%. Alberta is forecast to post the slowest growth of any region in Canada this year.
The situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon, with key pipelines like TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL and Enbridge Inc.’s expansion of its Line 3 conduit bogged down by legal challenges. The lack of pipelines has weighed on Canadian heavy crude prices for years, sending them to a record low late in 2018.
“If they thought things were getting better in Canada, they might hold on, but they don’t see things getting better,” Laura Lau, who helps manage more than C$2 billion ($1.5 billion) at Brompton Corp. in Toronto, said in an interview. “The pipeline situation is getting worse; everything is getting worse.”
Other recent major exits include ConocoPhillips’ $13.2 billion sale of its oil-sands and natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy Inc. in 2017, and Shell’s and Marathon’s sales of their stakes in an oil-sands project to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for about $10.7 billion that same year. Canadian Natural also bought Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp.’s Canadian heavy oil assets this year for $2.79 billion. Norway’s Equinor ASA pulled out in 2016 after facing pressure at home to invest in lower-emission projects.