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Norway's Statoil announces takeover of Canada's North American Oil Sands

Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA announced an agreement Friday to take over Canada's North American Oil Sands Corp. in a US$2 billion (euro1.56 billion) deal.

The Calgary-based oil producer, formed in 2001, operates 257,200 acres (1,110 square kilometers) of oil sands leases in the Athabasca region of Alberta, northeast of Edmonton.

"Today's acquisition is an important strategic move which supports our global growth ambition and increases our reserve bookings in the long term," said Helge Lund, chief executive of Statoil.

North American Oil Sands produces extra heavy oil from oil sands deposits in what Statoil described as unconventional sources of crude that are becoming increasingly important.

"We are developing our global heavy oil portfolio and strengthening our marketing position in North America," said Lund.

State-controlled Statoil has experience producing heavy oil from sand in projects in Venezuela. Statoil said North American Oil Sands holds leases with estimated reserves of 2.2 billion barrels of oil, which the Norwegian company hopes will eventually yield 200,000 barrels per day of oil.

A news release said the transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter.

Statoil is the key player on offshore oil fields that make Norway a major world supplier of crude. In December, it agree to take over the oil division of Norway's second largest oil producer, Norsk Hydro ASA.

Statoil shares opened down more than 1 percent at 168.75 kroner (US$28.12; euro21.09) on the Oslo stock exchange.

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