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globeandmail.com: Shell jumping back into the oil sands

PATRICK BRETHOUR

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is plunging into Alberta’s oil sands again, saying yesterday that it has acquired another swath of leases to the west of the existing industry.

The British oil giant, parent of Shell Canada Ltd., rocked the oil sands industry in March when it announced that it had paid $465-million for 10 parcels of land in the twice-monthly provincial auction of petroleum rights. Those parcels are well to the west of Fort McMurray, in an area with oil trapped in limestone rather than clay.

Yesterday, Royal Dutch — through a subsidiary separate from Shell Canada — bulked up that acquisition, spending another $101-million for 20,900 hectares. The company got a slightly better deal than its purchase this spring, with the per hectare cost dropping by about 8 per cent. A spokesman for the subsidiary, Sure Northern Energy Ltd., said the company has already drilled one appraisal well, the first step in a two-year program.

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