Despite Criticism, Statoil Moving Forward In Oil Sands

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Amid criticism in its home country, Statoil, Norway's largest oil company, is moving ahead with investing the oil sands region of Western Canada. As production at Norway's aging fields declines, the company is scurrying to find new sources of oil at a time when prices are surging.

Statoil (STO) believes it can be environmentally responsible in its oil sands activities. Environmentalists have been critical of tapping the oil sands region for several years as the region is home to deposits of heavy-sulfur crude, which can be more a pollutant than light sweet crude.

Last year, Statoil sold a stake in its oil sands investments to Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production to lower its exposure to the region. Statoil said its Leismer oil sands project, which currently produces 10,000 barrels per day, could produce 18,000 bpd in the next two years.

A second development, called Corner, is scheduled to start by 2015 or 2016 and produce 60,000 bpd, Reuters reported. The Canadian oil sands region is home to the world's second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. Canada is the top exporter of oil to the U.S.

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