Canada’s Costly Oilsands Loses Another Player as Norwegian Oil Giant Statoil Pulls Out

Norwegian oil major Statoil will be pulling out of its Canadian oilsands project after nearly a decade with an expected loss of at least USD$500 million.

In yet another sign that Canada’s oilsands – one of the most polluting fossil fuel projects on the planet – is becoming increasingly costly, Lars Christian Bacher, Statoil’s executive vice-president for international development and production, said in a statement: “This transaction corresponds with Statoil’s strategy of portfolio optimisation to enhance financial flexibility and focus capital on core activities globally.”

The 14 December announcement comes just weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the controversial Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in a move to facilitate growth in the oilsands and create jobs.

The international energy giant will sell all of its oilsands assets to the mid-sized Alberta-based Athabasca Oil Corp effective 1 January 2017 in a deal that could produce about 80,000 barrels of oil a day with reserves expected to last up to 70 years. It is estimated to be worth up to CAD$832 million. The deal will also see Statoil retain a stake of just under 20 percent in Athabasca.

Statoil was one of 13 companies operating in the oilsands that had signed a long-term contract with Texas-based pipeline operator Kinder Morgan to ship oil via the Trans Mountain pipeline. However, it is now unclear what will happen with its contract, the National Observer has reported. According to Statoil Athabasca will have the option to enter the agreement.

The move is the latest in a string of losses for oilsands operators since global oil prices began to plummet in 2014, triggering other European companies such as Shell and Total to pull out of projects and resulting in tens of thousands of jobs being lost across Alberta.

And while Trudeau has said recently that tar sands and pipeline expansion will be “integral” to the country’s climate plans, Statoil’s head of sustainability, Bjorn Otto Sverdrup, tweeted on the day of the company’s announcement that Statoil’s exit from the oilsands “bends our cost and emission curves. Building resilience.”

Photo: Lawrence Sauter via Statoil


New title

You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired five journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 3,500 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

In search of Haida Gwaii’s forest-dwelling hawk, one of the most endangered species on the planet

A dense fog rolls in from the ocean on a cool, wet summer morning in Gaw Old Masset, a small village at the north end...

Continue reading

Recent Posts

Help power our ad-free, non‑profit journalism
Will you be one of 194?

For our budget to add up, we need to reach 3,700 members by Oct. 31. Will you help make our independent environmental journalism available to thousands of others? Bonus: all our members get charitable tax receipts.