Energy Ink

Carbonate holdings ‘resonated’ with Rick George: Osum CEO

Ex-Suncor boss George joins Osum as chairman

November 05, 2012

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Osum Oil Sands Corp., one half of the joint venture team of companies that is working to crack Alberta’s Grosmont carbonates, this week appointed former Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive officer Rick George as chairman.

George declined to comment on his new role with the privately held company. Alberta Oil caught up with Osum chief executive officer Steve Spence to talk about what the ex-Suncor boss brings to the table, and whether Osum is any closer to an IPO.

On selecting Rick George:

For us, what we were looking for was a chairman who brought experience and expertise in the oil sands and the type of work that we’re doing. When we started looking, one of the people that was a fairly obvious dream choice, if you will, was Rick George. Through a series of conversations I got to know Rick and he got to know our business and what we’re trying to do. We talked a lot about the potential of Osum, the asset base we had and what we thought we’d be able to do with it, taking this new oil sands resource in the Grosmont carbonate play and trying to turn that into something really significant, changing the game for Alberta and for Canada. That kind of opportunity, I would say, resonated with him.

On what George’s appointment means for Osum’s ability to raise capital:

Everybody will sit back and decide whether this is something that matters to them or not when we go to raise capital. We have strong group of shareholders and always had a strong board. This just adds one more individual with a great experience base to that mix. Certainly [he’s] a well-known name and certainly someone who has experience doing the things that Osum is looking to do for the future. I would think it can only build on the confidence we’ve always seen when we go out and talk to potential investors. … We’ve never had a significant issue raising capital. We’ve raised just over $1 billion as a company, so we have strong investors. This is something that builds on the confidence that was already there.

On leveraging George’s experience taking Suncor public:

I think what Rick was able to do was spot the business opportunity that would work best for Suncor’s future. In their particular case, at that particular time, it was to go public. He does have experience with that. The key thing to emphasize is his ability to identify, and use his experience to understand, the right opportunities at the right point in time.

On what caught George’s interest:

Two things: We’ve got our assets in the Cold Lake region, which are well understood, mature [and] ready to commercialize. As we move that along through the process, and we’re ready to create value with that … that’s stepping into projects and execution and the development part of it that’s exciting. With the Grosmont, we have over 20 million barrels of identified resource in the Grosmont. That’s the in-place number, and about 3.5 billion barrels of best-estimate contingent recoverable resource. That’s a big resource base to build from. And it’s not just that it’s a big resource base, but it’s one that the total play is on a scale that can change the game for Canada and North America, adding significantly to our global resource position. And those are the kind of things that are frankly very exciting for me to be involved in and I think would also be a motivator to Rick.

On establishing the Grosmont as a commercial reservoir:

With the Grosmont, we’re working with a joint venture partner on a commercial pilot. That pilot’s been in operation now for over 22 months. We’re seeing lots of really interesting results. They’re leading us toward a belief that this is a [resource that can be commercialized]. It is still a pilot and we keep a lot of the data confidential, but we’re confident we’re moving in the right direction.

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