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Syncrude operations near Fort McMurray, Alta.

MARK RALSTON

Industry Minister Tony Clement signed off on a plan Friday by a Chinese energy giant to buy ConocoPhillips Co.'s minority stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd., the world's largest oil sands venture, for $4.65-billion (U.S.).

In approving the purchase by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, after a review under the Investment Canada Act, Mr. Clement noted that the deal will not change the level of Canadian control of the project, which will remain at 55.97 per cent.

"I have approved the application by Sinopec under the Investment Canada Act to acquire control of the ConocoPhillips Partnership because I am satisfied that the investment is likely to be of net benefit to Canada," Mr. Clement said in a statement.

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"In making my determination, I carefully considered the plans, undertakings and other information submitted by Sinopec in light of the net benefit factors listed in section 20 of the Act."

ConocoPhillips announced the sale of its stake in the project in April.

Syncrude, an oil sands mining operation north of Fort McMurray, Alta., has a capacity of up to 350,000 barrels of oil per day.

Sinopec had already grabbed a foothold in the oil sands through its 50 per cent stake in Total E&P Canada's Northern Lights project.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.

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