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Oil Sands

Oil Sands
Oil Sands
Expertise / Sectors / Oil & Gas / Oil Sands

About 90 per cent of Canada’s technically recoverable oil resources are oil sands bitumen, of which half is economically recoverable with existing technologies. Many technological and economic challenges have been overcome to produce and transport bitumen and to refine it into products such as gasoline and diesel fuel.

While advising on Canadian oil sands legal solutions, Blakes has been involved in a significant number of acquisitions and divestitures. We have an established track record in structuring investments and developing, implementing and financing joint venture and project plans. Our top-ranked Competition & Antitrust practice has unparalleled experience in representing clients before the Canadian Competition Bureau in domestic and cross-border mergers. This combination, along with industry knowledge gained in serving a first-rate client base, allows us to efficiently and effectively provide strategic, practical and comprehensive advice to assist our clients in achieving optimal commercial results.

In conjunction with a thorough understanding of the legal environment in which the industry operates, our multidisciplinary team of oil sands legal advisors has a long tradition of excellence in mergers and acquisitions, tax, competition law, securities, financing, labour and employment, real estate, technology, litigation, and insolvency.

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Recent Experience
  • Suncor Energy Inc. on its acquisition of an additional five per cent interest in the Syncrude joint venture from Mocal Energy Ltd. for C$920-million.

  • Sinopec, through its subsidiary SinoCanada Petroleum Corporation, on the negotiation of its C$105-million purchase of an interest in the Northern Lights oil sands project in northeastern Alberta. With a design capacity of more than 100,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil, the project costs over a five-year period are estimated at C$4.5-billion.

  • Suncor Energy Inc. on its agreement to acquire Murphy Oil Company’s interest in the Syncrude oil sands joint venture for approximately C$937-million.

  • Encana Corporation and PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. in connection with the transfer of fee-simple oil and gas and related assets by Encana to PrairieSky and subsequent C$1.67-billion initial public offering of PrairieSky by Encana.

  • Nexen Inc. on its C$15.1-billion acquisition by CNOOC Limited.

  • TransCanada Corporation on the establishment of its partnership with Phoenix Energy Holdings Limited for the construction and operation of the C$3-billion Grand Rapids Pipeline System.

  • SilverBirch Energy Corporation on its acquisition by Teck Resources Limited valued at C$435-million.

  • Suncor Energy Inc. on its joint venture and purchase arrangements with Total E&P Canada Ltd., wherein Total paid Suncor a net C$1.75-billion. Total received a 19 per cent stake in Suncor’s piece of the Fort Hills oil sands project in Alberta and a 49 per cent stake in a Suncor-operated Voyageur (U3) upgrader. In turn, Suncor acquired Total’s 37 per cent stake in a second Alberta project, the Joslyn project. The deal was recently referred to as “one of the most complex oil sands joint ventures in recent years” by The American Lawyer magazine.

  • Suncor Energy Inc. on the negotiation, execution and delivery of a series of engineering, procurement and construction agreements for the Voyager oil sands project.

  • SPIC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinopec on its US$4.65-billion purchase of ConocoPhillips’s interest in the Syncrude joint venture. The Syncrude joint venture is the largest oil sands venture in the world, which includes surface mining, extraction and upgrading.

  • PTT Exploration and Production Company on its US$2.28-billion acquisition of a 40 per cent partnership interest in Statoil Canada Partnership, whose main asset is the Kai Kos Dehseh oil sands project in Alberta and the subsequent negotiation of a joint venture agreement with Statoil Canada Ltd. This is a significant transaction as it marks the first foray of Thailand into the Canadian oil sands.

  • The underwriting syndicate on the initial public offering of MEG Energy Corp. for total proceeds of C$700-million.

  • The underwriting syndicate on the initial public offering of Athabasca Oil Sands Corporation for total proceeds of C$1.35-billion.

  • UTS Energy Corporation, a Canadian oil sands developer, in connection with the sale of UTS Energy (the Fort Hills project) to Total S.A. for C$1.75-billion. In addition to the sale of UTS, the transaction involved the creation of a new public Canadian company and the transfer of certain UTS oil sands assets to that new spinoff company.

  • UTS Energy Corporation on the C$250-million divestiture to Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil of UTS’s 50 per cent working interest in several Alberta oil sands leases located east of the Firebag River in northeastern Alberta.

  • Suncor Energy Inc. on its strategic merger with Petro-Canada.

  • Enerplus Resources Fund on its proposed C$7.6-billion strategic business combination with Focus Energy Trust, its C$182.5-million acquisition of Kirby Oil Sands Partnership, its participation in the Joslyn lease project, its development of the Kirby oil sands steam-assisted gravity drainage project and the sale of its 100 per cent working interest in the Kirby oil sands lease for gross proceeds of C$405-million.

  • Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil on their acquisition of Alberta Oil Sands Lease Nos. 421, 022 and 023 from UTS Energy Corporation.

  • Dover Operating Corp. and MacKay Operating Corp. with respect to operating the Dover and MacKay oil sands joint venture assets.

  • Husky Energy Inc. and supported its partner, BP Canada, in the negotiation, execution and delivery of a series of transportation and terminalling agreements for the transport of diluent and dilbit to and away from the Sunrise oil sands project


Awards & Recognition

Members of our Energy group are recognized as leaders in the most recent editions of the following publications:

  • Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  • The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada

  • Who’s Who Legal: Business

  • The Legal 500 Canada

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada