Chevron CEO signals he’s open to selling Canadian oilsands stake

Chevron chief executive Mike Wirth

Chevron Corp. would consider selling its 20 per cent stake in a Canadian oilsands mine as its faces investor pressure to do more to curb emissions and fight climate change.

The oil producer’s stake in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.’s Athabasca oilsands project generates “pretty good cash flow” without needing much capital “but I wouldn’t deem it a strategic position,” chief executive officer Michael Wirth said at Bernstein’s 37th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference.

“We’re not in the kind of fire-sale mentality,” Wirth said. “But if we got what we think is fair value for an asset like that, we’ve been willing to transact on things that are of that scale and kind of relative importance in the portfolio.”

Oilsands are among the most challenged energy assets because of the volume of emissions created when producing crude from mines and from underground wells that require steam injection.

Facing increased pressure to cut carbon emissions, multiple international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell plc and ConocoPhillips have divested of their Canadian oil sands holdings in recent years.

Those pressures have only intensified in the past week. Chevron shareholders voted on May 26 in favour of a climate proposal to include emissions from customers’ burning of fuels in future reduction targets, against the wishes of the board.

Environment-focused activist investors are expected to win three seats on Exxon Mobil Corp.’s board of directors in a stunning rebuke to the company’s management. Shell was ordered to cut emissions more quickly by a European court last week.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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