x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Canadian oilfields to go as Taqa reviews core assets

Abu Dhabi National Energy plans to sell a group of Canadian oilfields and is weighing the sale of more assets in a strategic shift.

Taqa North is set to close the sale of the oilfields in Saskatchewan by March of next year.
Taqa North is set to close the sale of the oilfields in Saskatchewan by March of next year.

Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa) plans to sell a group of small Canadian oilfields and is weighing the sale of more assets as it reviews its portfolio.

Taqa North, a subsidiary of the majority government-owned company, is set to close the sale of the oilfields in Saskatchewan by March of next year, according to a filing yesterday with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

Taqa did not disclose the buyer or the value of the sale.

The divestment follows Taqa's sale of US$50 million (Dh183.6m) worth of oil and gas assets in North America this year.

"We'll be looking at the portfolio," said Mohammed Mubaideen, the investor relations manager at Taqa. "If we identify non-core assets, we'll be looking at the sale of the non-core assets. These will be small-size divestitures."

Taqa North has put $600m into exploration and production this year and plans to invest about the same next year, he added.

"It is part of the ongoing management of our rich portfolio, by which we are divesting non-core and mature assets, and investing in strengthening our strategic assets," Frederic Lesage, the president of Taqa North, said in an interview with Canadian Business. "We will continue to focus our capital investments in the coming years to organically grow our core Canadian and American operations."

Taqa North pumps about 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Canada as well as Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Some 4,000 barrels of that capacity were part of the Saskatchewan assets.

The Saskatchewan oilfield came to Taqa after it bought Northrock Resources, a Canadian producer, for $2 billion in 2007. The acquisition was part of a wide-reaching acquisition campaign led by Peter Barker-Homek, a former chief executive of Taqa, that included assets as distant as power plants in the Caribbean.

After Mr Barker-Homek's departure in 2009, Taqa became entangled in a lawsuit in the US in which the former chief executive said he had been forced to leave. In September a US court dismissed the case, and the following month Taqa named Carl Sheldon to its top post.

In addition to the sales in the US and Canada, Taqa sold its 50 per cent stake earlier this year in a Caribbean power plant to its Japanese joint venture partner, ending its involvement in the $320m project.

Mr Mubaideen said the Saskatchewan sale was part of a strategy aimed at refocusing on Taqa's core geographical areas, including in the Middle East. Last month it bought a 20 per cent stake in WesternZagros, a Kurdistan producer, for C$46.6m (Dh164.8m), and this month it emerged as the lowest bidder to build Dubai's first private power and water project, the planned Hassyan plant.

"It's a normal practice for Canadian companies to optimise their portfolio," said Mr Mubaideen. "It's part of the strategy that we announced."

Taqa is majority-owned by the state utility Abu Dhabi Electricity & Water Authority, while 24.9 per cent is traded on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

ayee@thenational.ae

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