Nexen's role as Alberta's oil marketer up for bids

Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:28pm EST
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* Minister won't say if CNOOC is barred from bidding

* Nexen contract ends May 31

* Alberta takes in 72,000 bpd in lieu of cash

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Alberta is in the process of choosing a marketer for the crude oil it collects in lieu of cash royalties, a role now mostly filled by Nexen Inc , whose takeover by China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd was approved by Ottawa last week.

Ken Hughes, Alberta's energy minister, declined to say on Monday if he would be comfortable with CNOOC marketing most of the roughly 72,000 barrels per day of crude oil on behalf of the western Canadian province.

Currently, Nexen markets 90 percent of Alberta's government oil, taken from the industry as in-kind royalty payments, and the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission handles the rest.

Nexen's contract expires on May 31 and the government posted a request for proposals at the end of last month.

Hughes would not say if CNOOC would be barred from bidding.

"But it will be an open process to find a party that is best positioned to represent Alberta's interests," he told reporters.

He said the government will make a decision in the next two or three months.

On Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved CNOOC's acquisition of Nexen, but also issued guidelines expected to dramatically restrict the amount of control that foreign state-owned enterprises can have in the Canadian energy sector in futures deals.