Wichita, Kansas-based conglomerate Koch Industries has sold off its substantial position in the Canadian tar sands/oil sands, selling thousands of hectares of land to Cavalier Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Calgary-based Paramount Resources Ltd., the Financial Post revealed Wednesday.
“Koch, one of the world’s largest private companies owned by American billionaires and Republican donors Charles and David Koch, has also abandoned the licences it did not sell in the transaction with Paramount and has been allowing its leases in the play to expire,” the Post reports.
The news lands just days after tar sands/oil sands analysts bemoaned the poor response the industry is receiving from investors, despite its continuing efforts to cut costs.
“The majority of Koch Oil Sands licences have been transferred to Paramount Resources Ltd.,” Alberta Energy Regulator spokesperson Shawn Roth said in an email. “All of the remaining licences for well sites have been abandoned, which means they have been permanently sealed and taken out of service.”
A Koch subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, still owns oil storage tanks in Hardisty, Alberta and runs U.S. refineries that process diluted bitumen from Alberta. “However, the company confirmed it had sold down its upstream oilsands holdings and surrendered expired leases in the play,” the Post states.
“Those leases, which were held by Koch Oil Sands Holdings, have varied over the years,” wrote spokesperson Rob Carlton. “These recent transactions are merely a reflection of the opportunities that are currently available in the marketplace and our desire to prioritize other initiatives.”
The Post lists a half-dozen international fossils that have abandoned the tar sands/oil sands since 2017, leaving Canadian firms like Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., and Athabasca Oil Corporation to solidify their holdings. While the Post blames the departures on a lack of export pipeline capacity and price pressure from fracking fields in the U.S. Permian Basin, the analysis earlier this week pointed to intense competition from efficient, affordable renewable energy and electric vehicles that is rapidly eroding future demand for oil as a transportation fuel. “Koch is not the only company allowing leases in the oilsands to expire as the pace of development in the play has slowed in recent years,” the Post reports. “In a move to cut costs, MEG Energy President and CEO Derek Evans said on his company’s recent earnings call that his company would allow leases on its longer-term holdings to expire, rather than pay escalating rents on the land.”