In 1989, Canadian Natural was an oil and natural gas company operating only in Alberta. They employed 9 people, produced about 1,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day and had a market capitalization of about $1 million. Today the company has approximately2,500 employees, produces over 530,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and has a value of approximately $22 billion.

Canadian Natural Resources is developing the Horizon Project. The Project is 70 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, where Canadian Natural owns and operates leases covering 115,000 acres through lease arrangements with the Province of Alberta. Drilling on the leases indicates an estimated 16 billion barrels of bitumen in place, with approximately 6 billion recoverable barrels under existing mining technologies. The Horizon Project execution strategy will focus on three phases of development over an seven-year period from 2005 through 2012. Synthetic crude oil will be produced during thesecond halfof 2008ramping up toa rate of 110,000 barrels of synthetic crude oil (SCO) per day. The second phase of production is expected in 2010 with an increase in production of 45,000 barrels of SCO. The third and final phase of development is expected in 2012 and will bring total production to 232,000 barrels per day of SCO.

The Horizon Project open pit mining strategy will consist of mobile equipment and bitumen extraction facilities to mine and separate the raw bitumen from the oil sands. Canadian Natural will further upgrade the bitumen to a sweet synthetic crude oil using proven delayed coking and hydro-treating technologies. All of the upgrading facilities are located on the Horizon plant site to allow energy integration and sharing of common infrastructure.

In preparing for startup, Canadian Natural resources are purchasing equipment and letting engineering contracts. Two of these are the subject of press releases form which I quote:

  • Finning International Inc. (TSX:FTT) announced a Can$264-million deal to provide 23 monster mining trucks to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) In addition to the top-of-the-line Caterpillar 797B trucks to be delivered in 2008, the agreement includes a multi-year support arrangement.
  • Emerson has won a contract from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. for the first phase of its US$9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project. Emerson will lead the automation of facilities that recover and upgrade bitumen into sweetened synthetic crude oil. The contract is for the first phase of the Horizon project, which will allow Canadian Natural Resources to produce 110,000 barrels per day of synthetic crude oil. Emerson will develop specifications for the project that will be used by all 12 engineering and procurement contractors involved in the project. The digital automation systems are part of Emerson's PlantWeb architecture, a digital approach to integrating plantwide operations.

I counted nearly a hundred job opportunities including openings for the project ranging from accounting and finance, through mine operators, administrators, construction workers, engineers of all types, geologist, and of course for procurement and purchasing.

Canadian Natural's common shares are listed on the New York stock exchange under the symbol CNQ and under the Toronto stock exchange as CNQ and CNQ.U which denotes trading in US funds. More information about Canadian Natural Resources Limited for potential investors is at globeinvestor.com.