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February 10, 2011 5:38 PM

Osler, Burnet, Clifford Chance on $5.4B PetroChina Deal

Posted by Jessica Seah

Additional reporting by Julie Triedman

In a coup for Calgary offices of Canadian firms, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt and Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer are advising on oil giant PetroChina Company Limited's proposed $5.4 billion investment in Encana Corporation's natural gas assets.

The proposed joint venture, announced Wednesday, would be the largest Chinese investment ever in Canada's energy sector. 

PetroChina will take a 50 percent stake in Calgary-based Encana's Cutbank Ridge natural gas assets in British Columbia and Alberta.

Canada is a hot spot for Chinese investment, as reported in this August 2010 feature in The American Lawyer. The article highlights the political fanfare surrounding the announcement of Encana and PetroChina's original memorandum of understanding on gas investments last June. 

Chinese acquisitions in Canada and the U.S. increased 81 percent in 2010, reaching $6.8 billion collectively by the end of September. The energy and resources sector alone accounts for 70 percent of the increase.

Osler, based in Toronto, is representing PetroChina on the deal, according to the firm. The firm's team was led by corporate partners Robert Desbarats and Paula Olexiuk in Calgary, and includes corporate partner Janice Buckingham, also in Calgary; and competition partner Peter Glossop in Toronto.

PetroChina also looked to parent company CNPC International Ltd.'s in-house legal attorney, Zhang Haitao, based in Calgary. Zhang also worked on PetroChina's last big deal in Western Canada, the acquisition of a 60 percent stake in two development projects owned by Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. for $1.9 billion. Stikeman Elliott represented PetroChina on that deal.

A team from the Hong Kong office of Clifford Chance also is advising PetroChina on securities compliance issues, with corporate partner Amy Lo taking the lead.

Calgary-based Burnet Duckworth is advising longtime client Encana on the transaction. The deal team is led by corporate partners John Cuthbertson and Alicia Quesnel and includes Mark Houston, Jody Wivcharuk, and associate Carolyn Wright.

In-house, Encana's Graham Baugh and Danielle Parrotta also are advising.

The PetroChina-Encana transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, including clearance under the Investment Canada Act, which governs overseas investment into the country.

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