Athabasca near closing $1.32 billion sale of Dover oil sands to PetroChina

Athabasca near closing $1.32 billion sale of Dover oil sands to PetroChina

Dover West Leduc. Image courtesy of Athabasca Oil.

Canada’s Athabasca Oil Corp. (TSX:ATH) is on the brink of closing the long-awaited sale of its Dover oil sands stake to a unit of PetroChina (NYSE:PTR), but the Calgary-based company isn't disclosing the date set for the completion of the deal or what's behind the delay.

Delivering its second quarter results last week, Athabasca’s President and CEO Sveinung Svarte said the firm was “working diligently to advance the closing of the Dover put transaction,” adding the firm appreciated “the ongoing patience” of its shareholders.

Athabasca expected to receive $1.23 billion in proceeds from the sale by mid-year so it could turn its focus toward developing its holdings in Alberta's promising Duvernay sale.

"Both parties are jointly working towards the closing of the transaction and we have a mutually understood path to closing, including targeted timelines," Svarte told analysts and reporters on a conference call.

"We had hoped this would have been done by now, but sometimes things take longer than anticipated."

Svarte would only say that the deal would be done in a "reasonable timeframe" and that it only expects to deal with "normal closing events" from now on.

The company also disclosed that it reached a separate $49 million settlement with CNPC's local affiliate to conclude a dispute over costs associated with the abandonment of older wells at Dover and one other oil-sands development site.

That prompted Athabasca to post a loss of Cdn$56.8 million ($51.8 million), or 14 Canadian cents a share, for the quarter ended in June, compared with a loss of Cdn$29.9 million, or seven cents a share, for the same period last year.

In March the firm’s chairman and founder William Gallacher decided to step down amid Chinese reports that a handful of PetroChina officials with ties to Canada were under investigation.