Marathon Selling Canadian Oil Assets

USX-Marathon Group has quietly put almost all its Canadian oil assets on the block as the No 5 U.S. oil company shifts its focus to gas exploration and production in western Canada and offshore Nova Scotia.

The Marathon assets up for sale, consisting of 10 light oil and non-core natural gas properties in Alberta and northeast British Columbia, two heavy oil projects in Saskatchewan as well as oil sands leases, are likely worth more than C$500 million ($327 million). They produce about 15,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

Including a sale in April of properties in southeastern Saskatchewan, Marathon will have sold about a third of its overall Canadian production by the time the deals are done. Marathon is cleaning up its Canadian asset base and focusing on a gas business.

Marathon is just one of several major oil companies mounting a big gas exploration push off the Nova Scotia coast, site of the huge producing Sable project and another big field now being developed by PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd. and Houston-based Marathon, which is in the process of being split from USX-U.S.