Sunday, March 03, 2013

Sunshine Oilsands - the next big thing or the next Oilsands Quest?

Bloomberg has a piece on Sunshine Oilsands

The money behind the company is largely Chinese, including Sinopec. They raised $580 million in an IPO in Hong Kong last March, and listed on the TSX in November. It listed at about HK$4.70 and is now trading at about HK$2.70, so things haven't exactly gone swimmingly on that front.

The article talks about the risks of being a small operator in the oilsands. Sunshine has apparently sought to counter this fear by tapping some of its huge owners (like Sinopec) for the capital it needs to get producing. The article doesn't talk about what I think is the biggest unknown for Sunshine: all its carbonate fields. Sunshine has a huge landbase for an oilsands company (the biggest in the province?) but much of it, like the Harper field, is carbonate, rather than clastic, which haven't really been demonstrated in an operating project yet. There are a few positive noises coming out about carbonates, but suffice to say there are significant challenges that may or may not be economic to overcome.

Current production is only 500 barrels per day. They think they need $15 billion to properly develop the land. To do that they need JV partners with lots of money, and they need to do it when there are other companies trying to do the same thing, like Athabasca and Connacher, who may have better assets. At the same time, the whole oilsands industry seems to be facing a headwind from lower costs for oilsands crude (due to pipeline capacity issues and a glut of shale-oil in the states) and rising prices (due in part to a strong Canadian dollar).

In short, I think Sunshine faces an uphill battle. I wish them luck.

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