Former Suncor boss finds a new place to hang his hat

Posted: Nov. 05, 2012     Author: Nathan VanderKlippe     Publication: The Globe and Mail

Former Suncor boss finds a new place to hang his hat

After stepping down from Suncor Energy Inc., Rick George made it sound like his interest for future work had been captured by natural gas.

But in his first major move post-Suncor, Mr. Oil Sands is sticking close to home.  He has been named chairman of Osum Oil Sands Corp, a small privately held Calgary company that has scooped up land containing a sizeable Grosmont carbonate resource.  The carbonates are poised to become the next chapter in the oil sands – they are a different type of rock from traditional oil sands deposits and have long been considered too difficult to extract.  But Osum, along with a  number of other companies – Laricina Energy Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. among them – has been working up technology to do just that.

Not surprisingly, Osum sees significant value in bringing Mr. George on board, making the announcement in a lengthy press release – which calls him “Rick” – that offers plenty of detail about the awards he has accumulated and his career at Suncor, where he spent 21 years as chief executive.

“I don’t have to tell you that Mr. George is considered, by many, a pioneer of Canada’s oil sands and his decision to join our board is taken as a real vote of confidence in our organization, ” spokeswoman Christi Millar wrote in an email.

Mr. George declined to comment.

Osum has regulatory approval to build 45,000 barrels a day in oil sands projects.  But it remains an early stage company:  despite estimates of 22 billion barrels of oil on its land, it has a slimmer 359 million barrels in reserves.  It expects to pump its first barrel in 2016.

Still, it has attracted some serious interest.  Osum has raised $1-billion to date, with a list of major shareholders that include Warburg Pincus, Blackstone Capital Partners, Korea Investment Corp., Government of Singapore Investment Corp., Camcor Partners, Kern Partners, Goldman Sachs and Blackrock Financial Management.

Osum hasn’t spoken much about an IPO, but its worth noting that Mr. George was in the driver’s seat when Suncor went public as a standalone company, and is one of the most recognized faces in the Canadian public markets.

Ms. Millar didn’t entirely rule that out.

“I think that it’s something any company considers but I wouldn’t say Rick joining the board points towards an IPO in the immediate future,” she wrote.

 

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