Total and Suncor join forces in Canadian oil sands

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French oil company Total said Friday it would form a strategic oil sands alliance with Canada's Suncor Energy by sharing ownership in three projects in Canada's western Alberta region.

The companies are to hold joint stakes in the Suncor-operated Fort Hills mining project, the Total-operated Joslyn mining project and the Suncor-operated Voyageur upgrader project.

"Under the alliance, the companies will pool their combined interests in these projects, with the respective operator holding 51 percent and the other partner 49 percent," Total said in a statement.

Under the deal, subject to approval from regulators, Total is to pay Suncor 1.75 billion Canadian dollars (1.3 billion euros, 1.74 billion US dollars).

"This collaboration will allow us to strengthen our portfolio of Canadian oil sands assets, opening new opportunities to develop this strategically important energy resource," Total Exploration & Production President Yves-Louis Darricarrere said in a statement.

Suncor and Total also agreed to develop Fort Hills and Voyageur in parallel so that both come on stream in early 2016.

Construction of Voyageur was suspended in 2008 but will be resumed after a re-design and will have a capacity of around 200,000 barrels per day (b/d) of upgraded products. It will process Total's Fort Hills and Joslyn bitumen production.

The companies aim to bring Joslyn North Mine on line with production of 100,000 b/d in 2017-2018.

In a separate announcement, Total said it had agreed to take an additional 7.5 percent in Australia's Gladstone LNG project from Santos for 281.25 million dollars (211.3 million euros).

The purchase increases Total's stake in the project to 27.5 percent.

© 2010 AFP

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