07/15/2011 07:16 EDT | Updated 09/14/2011 05:12 EDT

Mackenzie Pipeline Project: Shell Canada Energy To Sell Its Stake In The Long-Stalled Project

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- CALGARY - Shell Canada Energy says it is selling its stake in the long-stalled Mackenzie pipeline project in the Northwest Territories, along with other assets in the region.

The energy giant says that following a review it has decided to "focus its resources on other options."

It will also divest its 100 per cent working interest in the Niglintgak Significant Discovery License, high working interests in seven other licences in the region.

Shell did not disclose the buyer or the price.

"In terms of the future of the project, Shell believes the project is important for Canada," Stephen Doolan, media relations for Shell Canada in Calgary, said in an email to The Canadian Press late Friday.

"(The) reason for divesting of the assets is related to Shell’s overall portfolio-based strategy and the fit of the assets with this strategy. Active management of our assets is not new. Shell continually evaluates its portfolio to maintain strategic alignment with company objectives and to determine the best combination of assets to generate the greatest value to our shareholders."

The company says it believes the region provides exciting opportunities and a gateway to the Beaufort Sea, and is an important for economic development in the Arctic.

Fred Carmichael, chairman of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, estimates that Shell has an 11 per cent share in the project.

"They are actively now looking for buyers, and we're not really that concerned," Carmichael told CBC.

"We're sure that there's … a lot of companies out there that would love to step up to the plate and take over."

If built, the Mackenzie pipeline would connect natural gas from near the coast of the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories to northwestern Alberta, where it would link up with TransCanada Corp.'s (TSX:TRP) vast network.

A formal regulatory process finally wrapped in March after several years of delay.

Imperial Oil Ltd.'s (TSX:IMO) is the lead partner on the project and it still needs to secure some 6,000 other permits from local boards and agencies before construction can begin.

Imperial has said the soonest gas could start flowing through pipeline would be 2018.