December 29, 2011

Canadian Oil Sands Approval for Bitumen Extraction

CALGARY, Dec. 28, 2011 /CNW/ - Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. (TSX:  ATH) is pleased to announce that MacKay Operating Corp. (MacKay Opco) has received full regulatory approval from Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board and Alberta Environment and Water for the MacKay River commercial oil sands project. 

Sveinung Svarte, president and CEO says, "To obtain approval in just over 24-months is an achievement and Athabasca is very pleased with the regulatory process. The company filed the application on December 10, 2009 and MacKay Opco received the final approval on December 23, 2011. To achieve this major milestone, MacKay Opco's Regulatory and Stakeholder Affairs team effectively dealt with all stakeholders to resolve their concerns and get this commercial oil sands project endorsed by the regulators and the Alberta government." 

The MacKay River project is a 150,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project with Phase 1 expected to produce 35,000 bbl/d of oil.  Construction of the project will begin next month with start-up targeted for 2014. 

MacKay Opco is a Calgary-based joint venture between Athabasca (40%) and Cretaceous Oilsands Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of PetroChina (60%). The company was formed to operate the jointly owned MacKay River oil sands leases. 

Athabasca is a dynamic company focused on development of oil resource plays in Alberta, Canada. It has accumulated a large, high quality resource base suitable for extraction of extra heavy crude oil (bitumen) and light oil. The company is well financed and, with its excellent assets and talented people, Athabasca is poised to become a major Canadian oil producer. It is traded on the TSX under the symbol ATH.

Fule Supply to Improve says Shell

It is all good news from Shell. Singapore Shell has just announced that they are back in full production after the fire mishap a month ago and pls to note Shell SA made the following announcement.

SHELL SA said yesterday that it expected fuel availability at its Gauteng service stations to improve this week.Certain areas of Gauteng experienced fuel shortages after Shell’s Alberton fuel depot was shut down earlier this month for safety reasons following a fuel leak at the site.

"While the leak was immediately isolated, the depot remained closed until it was deemed safe to resume operations," Shell spokesman Elton Fortuin said yesterday. The fuel delivery backlog as a result of the problems at the Alberton depot has heightened the possibility of fuel shortages in other areas such as Mpumalanga and Free State as well.

The company yesterday said the Alberton fuel depot became fully operational this past weekend, with normal fuel delivery services commencing on Saturday.

"We still have a significant delivery backlog to clear and only expect fuel availability to improve at our Gauteng retail service stations during the course of this week. We regret the inconvenience caused to our retailers and the public," Mr Fortuin said.

Meanwhile, an outage at Sapref’s single-buoy mooring, a loading buoy anchored offshore, could worsen the fuel shortages. The buoy serves as a mooring and interconnection point for tankers loading or offloading gas or liquid products.The Durban-based Sapref refinery is the biggest crude oil refinery in southern Africa, with 35% of SA’s refining capacity.

"We have activated our contingency measures and are monitoring closely the potential impact the single-buoy mooring outage could have on our ability to supply fuel. We are also holding daily planning meetings to assess stock levels and prioritise fuel deliveries to ensure we minimise any supply disruptions during this period," Mr Fortuin said.Sapref said yesterday the Durban single-buoy mooring was taken out of service for unplanned repairs on Tuesday last week.

"Good progress has been made and it is expected that the repairs will be completed in a number of days, weather permitting," Sapref spokeswoman Cindy Govender said yesterday.Gauteng motorists recently experienced a spate of fuel shortages, mainly because of planned and unplanned maintenance shutdowns at some of the country’s refineries.

Other than petrol and diesel, the shutdowns led to a shortage of liquefied petroleum gas and bitumen. The shortages exposed the inadequacy of SA’s existing import facilities.The liquefied petroleum gas shortages affected, among others, the manufacturing, automotive and hospitality sectors, while bitumen is used to produce asphalt, used in road construction.

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December 5, 2011

TIPCO Wins half the battle.

 Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Glencore International Plc’s Singapore unit has paid a $20.2 million arbitration award to Tipco Asphalt Pcl’s Thai Bitumen Co., which will withdraw a lawsuit seeking to liquidate the commodities trader in the city.

“Glencore Singapore has only just paid the principal sum of the award,” Thai Bitumen’s lawyer Lim Chee Wee said in an e- mailed statement today. “The only outstanding issue now is the recovery of interest and costs.”

Thai Bitumen filed a winding-up petition on Nov. 23 against the Singapore unit of Glencore, the largest publicly traded commodities company, claiming it should be declared insolvent for being unable to pay its debts. A closed hearing was scheduled for Dec. 9.

Charles Watenphul, a spokesman for Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and calls to his office outside of regular business hours went unanswered.

Glencore was ordered to pay $20.2 million and interest to Thai Bitumen by arbitrator Kenneth Rokison on Sept. 21, according to the lawsuit. Glencore failed to deliver 600,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude oil to Thai Bitumen, breaching an October 2008 sale contract, Rokison ruled in the London arbitration proceedings.

Thai Bitumen, a unit of Thailand’s biggest asphalt producer Tipco Asphalt, and Glencore couldn’t agree on the interest amount to be paid on the arbitration award, according to court papers. Glencore’s lawyers claimed Thai Bitumen had over- calculated the interest by $42,785, according to court filings.
Glencore declared force majeure on the delivery to Thai Bitumen, a legal clause that allows delays because of an incident outside a supplier’s control, after a decision by Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA to cut production in 2008, according to the filing.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, announced that they were cutting production in December 2008 after oil prices fell to their lowest in more than four years.
The case is Thai Bitumen Co. v Glencore Singapore Ltd. CWU152/2011 in the Singapore High Court.

By Andrea Tan

--With assistance from Ann Koh in Singapore. Editors: Douglas Wong, Suresh Seshadri
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at