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    Marathon Selling Canadian Assets

    Oil company shifts its focus to gas exploration and production in western Canada.

    USX-Marathon Group has quietly put almost all its Canadian oil assets on the block as the oil company shifts its focus to gas exploration and production in western Canada and offshore Nova Scotia.

    The Marathon assets up for sale, consisting of 10 light oil and non-core natural gas properties in Alberta and northeast British Columbia, two heavy oil projects in Saskatchewan and oil sands leases, are likely worth more than $327 million, according to Reuters. They produce about 15,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

    Including a sale in April of properties in southeastern Saskatchewan, Marathon will have sold about a third of its overall Canadian production by the time the deals are done, said Bob Shepherd, president of unit Marathon Canada Ltd.

    The sale comes at a time when U.S. oil firms have launched a frenzied shopping spree for western Canadian energy assets, although the target has been high-priced gas. It follows a similar $490-million sale of Alberta properties last year by rival Phillips Petroleum Co., which said it saw bigger and better opportunities elsewhere in the world, the report said.

    Marathon said it has set deadlines of June 21 for the light oil assets and June 28 for the heavy oil operations.

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