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TSX Trading Symbol: UTS
CALGARY, Nov. 2 /CNW/ - UTS Energy Corporation ("UTS") is pleased to announce the disposition of its 50 per cent working interest in Alberta Oil Sands Lease Nos. 421, 022 and 023 (the "Lease 421 Area") located east of the Firebag River in north-eastern Alberta. Imperial Oil and ExxonMobil have agreed to jointly purchase UTS' working interest for C$250 million.
"Our primary objective has always been to deliver shareholder value," said William Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer. "This transaction demonstrates the success of UTS' strategy of generating cash reserves organically, by finding new oil sands resources. By implication, this transaction also demonstrates the market value of the Equinox and Frontier Projects, and UTS' broader portfolio of assets outside of the Fort Hills Project."
Lease 421 was acquired in a land sale in late 2006 and was initially cored with five drill holes in early 2008. Based on those results, the two adjacent leases (Leases 022 and 023) were purchased and during the 2008/2009 winter season another 54 core holes were drilled, bringing the total number of core holes in the Lease 421 Area to 59. As a result, 29 sections of the Lease 421 Area have been drilled to an average density of approximately two core holes per section. An area equivalent to 24 sections was found to be prospective; however, insufficient drilling has been completed to fully determine the ultimate resource potential in the Lease 421 Area.
UTS anticipates that the estimated after-tax proceeds will be C$200 million. UTS remains strongly funded with an estimated C$440 million in cash and cash equivalents, which, taken in combination with the C$695 million approximate remaining earn-in owed to UTS by Teck and Suncor on the Fort Hills Project, leaves the Company extremely well positioned to respond to the needs of both the Fort Hills Project and its portfolio of other development opportunities.
The transaction is subject to normal closing conditions and is expected to close over the next month. This anticipated closing is a major milestone for UTS and marks the end of the formal value maximization process started in January of 2009 in response to the hostile takeover bid launched by Total E&P Canada Ltd.
"The disposition of the Lease 421 Area confirms the value of UTS' asset base. UTS will continue to create shareholder value by working constructively with its world class partners and considering further opportunities," stated Dennis Sharp, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
"With Suncor operating the Fort Hills Project and the macro environment substantially improved, we continue to be quite encouraged and optimistic about the prospects for Fort Hills," said Dr. Roach. As communicated in UTS' second quarter results, Suncor has now assumed operatorship of the Fort Hills Project and will work with the Fort Hills partnership to determine the best way to proceed. We fully expect that significant synergies will be found with Suncor's existing operations that will further enhance the economics and attractiveness of the Fort Hills Project for all the partners. If a smaller Fort Hills Project scope is adopted for Fort Hills, we believe that we may be almost entirely funded based on our current position. The scope is currently under consideration and will be discussed with the new operator over the remainder of the year.
RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities Inc. acted as financial advisors to UTS on the transaction. Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP acted as legal counsel to UTS.
UTS' Current Projects
UTS was instrumental in re-establishing the Fort Hills Oil Sands Project and is the principal founder of the Fort Hills Energy Limited Partnership. UTS holds a 20 per cent working interest in the Fort Hills Project, a mature mining project, located north of Fort McMurray.
Beyond the Fort Hills Project, UTS has identified additional development opportunities through a successful and continuing lease acquisition and exploration program. UTS has a 50 per cent working interest in each of the Frontier and Equinox Projects with its partner Teck Resources Ltd. The Frontier Project is an oil sands mining project associated with the development of that portion of the Athabasca Oil Sands Area identified by Alberta Oil Sands Lease Nos. 311, 468, 470, 477, 610 and 840 and is located in north-eastern Alberta approximately 100 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and 500 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. The Equinox Project is an oil sands project related to the development of Alberta Oil Sands Lease No. 14 located in north-eastern Alberta. The Equinox Project bisects the Pierre River Project, approximately 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and 500 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Beyond the Fort Hills, Equinox and Frontier Projects, UTS holds a further 50 per cent working interest in an additional 83,712 hectares (209,280 acres) of prospective oil sands leases.
Business of UTS
UTS is focused on the creation of shareholder value through exploration, development and production of hydrocarbon resources, mainly mineable oil sands deposits from the Athabasca Oil Sands Area in north-eastern Alberta.
UTS is committed to responsible resource development by conducting its business in a manner that reduces environmental effects, protects workers' and communities' health and safety and recognizes stakeholder interests.
UTS Energy Corporation is based in Calgary, Alberta. The Company's common shares (UTS) are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
SOURCE UTS ENERGY CORPORATION
For further information: For further information: Dr. William J. F. Roach, President and Chief Executive Officer at (403) 538-7030