Marathon Oil: talks tied to sale of part of stake in Athabasca Oil Project have ended

HOUSTON – Marathon Oil said Thursday that talks on a potential sale of part of its stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada have ended.

The Athabasca project is a joint venture between Marathon Oil Canada, Shell Canada Energy and Chevron Canada Ltd. that extracts a thick form of crude known as bitumen from sand formations. Shell holds a 60 per cent stake and serves as the project’s operator.

Marathon Oil Corp. was in talks with a possible buyer for a portion of its 20 per cent stake in the project, but said a deal was not reached. The potential buyer was not named.

The company said that its plan to sell between $1.5 billion and $3 billion in assets from 2011 through 2013 is still in place. To date, it has agreed or closed on about $1.3 billion in asset sales.

Marathon said that it is not currently holding any other talks related to the Athabasca project stake and is still evaluating ways to maximize shareholder value.

Marathon shares shed 16 cents to close at $35.23 Thursday.