Suncor will buy the 31.23% interest held by TotalEnergies EP Canada in the Fort Hills oil sands mining project in northern Alberta, its total ownership to 100%.
“The transaction secures additional long-term bitumen supply to fill our Base Plant upgraders at a competitive supply cost, addressing a key uncertainty for the company,” Suncor CEO Rich Kruger said in a statement.
Calgary-based Suncor has been weighing options for replacing around 200,000 barrels per day of raw bitumen supply from Base Mine, its largest oil sands mine, which is set to run out by the mid-2030s.
The mine feeds two Base Plant upgraders that produce roughly 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of high-value synthetic crude and are a vital part of Suncor’s operations.
The TotalEnergies acquisition will add 61,000 bpd of bitumen production capacity and 675 million barrels of proven and probable reserves to Suncor’s existing oil sands portfolio.
Suncor had agreed in April to buy TotalEnergies’ Canadian operations for $5.5 billion, including the Fort Hills interest and a 50% stake in the Surmont thermal oil sands facility.
However, ConocoPhillips, which operates Surmont, exercised its right of first refusal to buy TotalEnergies’ stake instead of Suncor, triggering a review of Suncor’s entire deal.
Fort Hills, an open-pit mine, has struggled with operational challenges since starting production in early 2018. Last year Suncor forecast 5% lower gross production and higher operating costs per barrel at Fort Hills over the next three years as a result of long-term improvement plans for the project.
“It’s an asset at a weird point in its life,” said Wood Mackenzie analyst Mark Oberstoetter, adding it was difficult to say whether the deal was good value because there remained question marks over operations at Fort Hills.
“If you assume the asset will continue to improve and they achieve the intended outcomes, it could be a steal,” he added.
Suncor’s deal is expected to close by the end of this year.