May 23 Marathon Oil Corp said on
Thursday that negotiations to sell a portion of its 20 percent
stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada ended without
An agreement with the prospective purchaser was not reached
and the company is not engaged in any other discussions to sell
the assets, Marathon said.
Marathon and a number of other exploration and production
companies, including ConocoPhillips COP.N, have put billions of
dollars of oil and gas properties up for sale in a bid to focus
capital on projects that generate higher returns.
Marathon disclosed the Athabasca negotiations in October,
but it never disclosed the identity of the potential purchaser.
More than a week before Marathon disclosed the talks,
sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Indian
state-run exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corp
planned to approach Marathon about buying half of its interest
in the Athabasca project.
Its current production capacity is 255,000 barrels of
synthetic crude per day.
Marathon said it still expects to raise between $1.5 billion
and $3 billion from asset sales over the three-year period
ending this year. So far it has raised about $1.3 billion.
Marathon's decision to step away from selling its stake in
Athabasca does leave Marathon short of its asset sale goal, but
one-half of 2013 remains so reaching the lower end of the range
remains achievable, Roger Read, analyst at Wells Fargo said in a
note to clients.
He projects that the Houston company will be cash flow
positive this year and next, so it does not need big asset sales
to "provide liquidity or to improve its balance sheet."
Shares of Marathon fell one percent to $35.03 in late
morning New York Stock exchange trading.
Shell owns 60 percent of the Athabasca project, which
includes the Muskeg River and Jackpine mines, according to Shell
Canada's website. Marathon and Chevron each own 20