Suncor downsizing natural gas business

CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) aims to dramatically pare down its natural gas business by the end of 2010 as it focuses its attention on growing its oilsands operations in northern Alberta.

CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU) aims to dramatically pare down its natural gas business by the end of 2010 as it focuses its attention on growing its oilsands operations in northern Alberta.

“We will go through a significant downsizing of those assets,” John Rogers, vice-president of investor relations, told an investment conference hosted by Calgary brokerage Peters & Co.Since Suncor’s union with former Crown corporation Petro-Canada became official on Aug. 1, integration work has been taking place in earnest.

“It’s been no secret right from the beginning of the merger that we have not been happy with the returns that are coming out of both sides of the natural gas assets, both ourselves and the legacy Petro-Canada,” Rogers said.

The cuts are expected to be complete some time before 2010.

Before the transaction with Petro-Canada created the country’s largest oil company, Suncor was seen by investors as a pure-play on the oilsands, with the world’s second-largest mining operation north of Fort McMurray and plans to expand its output further.

The company also has Sunoco refineries and gasoline stations in Ontaro, a national network of Petro-Canada stations and a growing fuel refining and gasoline retailing business in the Denver area of Colorado under the Phillips 66 brand. The company’s refineries process heavy crude from the oilsands into various products.