This acquisition fits Canadian Natural's strategy of dominating its core areas and related infrastructure, as the vast majority of the properties being acquired by the Company are located within its core areas. Canadian Natural expects to effect operating cost reductions through synergies with its own existing facilities in these core areas. Initial assessments have identified approximately 90 new well locations and 200 well recompletion opportunities on the properties being acquired. In addition it extends the Company's North Alberta core region into the light oil operating area of Dawson. Consistent with similar acquisitions in 2004 this acquisition is expected to provide additional free cash flow during the construction years of the Horizon Oil Sands Project.
The acquisition will be funded using existing available credit facilities. Due to the strength of the Company's balance sheet, the Company expects to exit 2004 with a debt to book capitalization of approximately 34% and debt to EBITDA of under 0.9 times, both well below the Company's targeted ranges. The Company's conventional growth strategy continues to focus on adding value through organic low-risk drilling and accretive acquisitions.
Concurrent with the acquisition, Canadian Natural's Board of Directors have reviewed its planned capital expenditures for 2004 with forecast capital expenditures now expected to accumulate to $4.5 billion. This acquisition results in new 2004 production guidance of 280 - 288 thousand barrels per day of crude oil and NGLs and 1,380 - 1,392 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.
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