Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. can’t yet claim the “King of the Oil Sands” status, but it’s a lot closer to overtaking its rival Suncor Energy Inc. after buying a key Athabasca drilling site.
The company’s $2.8 billion purchase of Devon Energy Corp.’s Jackfish brings Canadian Natural’s oil-sands production capacity to more than 700,000 barrels a day compared with more than 900,000 barrels a day controlled by Suncor, according to data compiled by Oil Sands Magazine. The Devon purchase marks the company’s second major acquisition in the oil sands in the past two years after it bought most of Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s oil-sands operations in 2017, making it Canada’s largest overall oil producer with more than one million barrels a day of production worldwide.
Unlike Suncor, which opened the first oil-sands mine in the 1960s, Canadian Natural is a relative newcomer to the scene. The company emerged in the late 1980s as an Alberta gas producer and entered the oil sands about a decade later. Whereas Suncor’s oil-sands capacity hasn’t grown since the start of the Fort Hills mine last year, Canadian Natural’s Kirby North and Primrose expansion are scheduled to start this year and add 66,000 barrels a day of capacity.