Suncor Energy hoping to build ‘material’ offshore presence in Norway

CALGARY – Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) hopes to build a “material presence” in offshore Norway, its senior vice president of exploration and production said Wednesday.

But Francois Langlois said Suncor, best known as a dominant oilsands producer, is in no hurry to grow its interests in the international and offshore spheres.

“It’s not urgent that we do this. We’re not pressured in being a high-risk explorer that throws a lot of money at exploration,” Langlois said on Suncor’s investor day webcast.

Not much more than 10 to 15 per cent of his business unit’s budget is being spent on exploration, he said.

“It’s a measured approach.”

Langlois described Norway as a “principle exploration theatre” for Suncor.

The company has had a presence in the Scandinavian country for seven years, and has acquired about 15 licences across the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea. It’s appraising two discoveries there.

“Hopefully we’ll see them add to the bottom line as we move forward in our plans,” said Langlois.

Also on the webcast, CEO Steve Williams said Suncor has the financial strength to grow through acquisitions, but there’s nothing specific in its crosshairs at the moment.

“The firepower we have on our balance sheet is considerable,” he said.

“We’ll continue to look. I think the best time to do a good deal is when you’re not in a hurry to do it.”

Higher up on the priority list, Williams said, is investing in existing Suncor assets to help them run more efficiently, chasing attractive growth projects and returning cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

That said, some opportunities may present themselves in Suncor’s core oilsands business.

“It’s becoming quite clearly a big company game in oilsands,” Williams said.

Potential acquisitions on Canada’s East coast or in the U.K. or Norwegian sectors of the North Sea might also be attractive.

“We understand those and we’ve been party to ventures there.”