Conoco Shelves Mackenzie Project

Zacks

ConocoPhillips (COP), along with its partners, have put a halt to the proposed $16.3 billion Mackenzie gas project. The partners stated that the low natural gas prices do not make the project feasible.

The planned 743-mile (1,196 kilometer) pipeline would have eased the transportation of gas to leading U.S. markets from northern Canada – with a capability to carry about 1.2 billion cubic feet per day. The pipeline would also link three prosperous gas fields in the northwestern territories of Canada with a TransCanada Corp. (TRP) system in Alberta. These areas are out of the range of the existing pipelines.

ConocoPhillips is in partnership with ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS.A) and Imperial Oil Ltd. for the proposed pipeline. Imperial Oil is the operator of the project.

The deferment of the project would cost ConocoPhillips a one-time charge of around $525 million, which would be shown in its first quarter earnings of 2012.

In 2010, the CEO of ExxonMobil remarked that the project is not expected to progress in the next decade due to high shipping expenses and other difficulties.

With leading positions in both natural gas and heavy crude oil in North America, as well as a legacy position in the North Sea and growing exposure to lucrative international regions, ConocoPhillips expects to replace reserves and sustain production growth over the long term.

However, as a company operating within the energy sector, ConocoPhillips remains vulnerable to unstable movements in crude oil and natural gas prices, as well as the volatile nature of the macro backdrop.

The current Zacks Consensus Estimates for ConocoPhillips are $8.73 and $9.10 per share for the fiscal years 2012 and 2013, respectively. The estimates represent year-over-year growth of 2.95% for 2012 and 4.24% for 2013.

ConocoPhillips holds a Zacks #3 Rank, which is equivalent to a Hold rating for a period of one to three months. For the long term, we maintain a Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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