Although Canadian Natural Resources (NYSE:CNQ) operations are dominated by its core properties in North America, the company is also actively exploring and developing oil and gas properties in various international venues.

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International Assets
CNQ's international portfolio of oil and gas assets is located in the United Kingdom portion of the North Sea and offshore Africa. The company reported production of 60,000 barrels of oil per day from these properties in the first quarter of 2011. This represented approximately 10% of the company's total production.

Canadian Natural Resources estimates that the company's gross proved plus probable reserves in the international portfolio total 553 million barrel of oil equivalent (BOE).

In 2011, Canadian Natural Resources estimates that the company's crude oil production from the international portfolio will decline by a double-digit rate from 2010, and be in a range from 48,000 to 56,000 barrel per day. (For more, see Oil: A Big Investment With Big Tax Breaks.)

2011 Capital Plans
Although the international segment is a small part of the company, Canadian Natural Resources plans to spend a significant amount of capital here over the next five years.

In 2011, Canadian Natural Resources plans to spend $420 million CAD to explore and develop these properties, along with an additional $1.7 billion CAD from 2012 to 2015. (For related reading, see The Working Capital Position.)

North Sea
The majority of the international production and reserves for Canadian Natural Resources are located in the North Sea, where the company has interests in various fields off the coast of Scotland. The company plans to reduce its capital spending here by 50% in 2011 due to a tax change by the British government.

West Africa
Canadian Natural Resources also has interests in areas located offshore Gabon and Cote d'Ivoire. The company reported production of 25,000 barrels of oil per day from here in the first quarter of 2011, and estimates that it has gross proved and probable reserves of 177 million barrels of oil.

West Africa is a popular area for oil and gas operators and has seen increased activity over the last decade. Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES) recently announced a discovery at the Paradise-1 well located offshore of Ghana. The company reported hitting 490 feet of oil and gas pay in three separate zones. (For related reading, see A Guide To Investing In Oil Markets.)

Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) announced the purchase of a 50% interest in two exploration blocks located offshore Gabon. The company plans to explore these blocks after a review of seismic data of the properties.

South Africa
Canadian Natural Resources has a more prospective position located in offshore South Africa, and plans exploratory drilling in 2013 and 2014. South Africa is also attracting interest from the oil and gas industry. In June 2011, Eni (NYSE:E) signed a cooperation agreement with the state owned South African oil company. The agreement calls for the evaluation of acquisitions in upstream projects. (For related reading, see Analyzing An Acquisition Announcement.)

The Bottom Line
Canadian Natural Resources is still exploring and developing oil and gas assets in the international space, despite the focus on North America. The company is concentrating in the North Sea and offshore Africa.

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