TotalEnergies said on Wednesday it is looking to spin off its Canadian oil sands operations and list them on the Toronto Stock Exchange, as the assets do not fit with the French oil major’s low-emissions strategy.
At an investor presentation in New York, TotalEnergies said the proposal would be subject to a shareholder vote at its next annual general meeting in May 2023.
The spin-off would include TotalEnergies’ 24.58% stake in the Fort Hills oil sands mining project in northern Alberta and its 50% stake in the Surmont thermal project, as well as midstream and trading-related activities.
Canada’s oil sands hold some of the world’s largest crude reserves but are more carbon-intensive and costly to produce than many conventional oil projects worldwide. Total has been trying to exit the region for several years and in 2020 wrote down C$9.3 billion ($6.83 billion) worth of oil sands assets.
“We are not the best shareholder of these assets because as we have a climate strategy, we don’t want to invest in these assets,” Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said.
Pouyanné told investors TotalEnergies had decided on a spin-off because the process would not depend on finding a buyer. The company will maintain a minority stake in the spin-off temporarily to smooth the transition.
TotalEnergies’ oil sands assets will generate $1.5 billion of cash flow in 2022, he added.
Suncor Energy, which is the majority-owner of Fort Hills, and ConocoPhillips, the co-owner of Surmont, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.