CANADIAN FINA OIL LIMITED was incorporated with a Dominion charter this week, and capitalized at $3,000,000, to carry on oil exploration and development in Alberta. The company starts off with a stake in five proven REDWATER oilfield locations, two exploratory wells, and an interest in about 1,500,000 acres.
Canadian Fina is a wholly owned subsidiary of a Belgian firm, COMPAGNIE FINANCIERE BELGE DES PETROLES, generally refereed to as 'PETROFINA'. On several counts, Petrofina's entry into Canadian oil is a story unique among the stories of the 150 or more Canadian and American firms now active in western development.
In Calgary this week to get the Petrofina program rolling were C. Bonnami of Brussels, manager of Petrofina; Trajan Nitescu, former chief of Petrofina operations in Rumania, who will establish in Calgary as head of Canadian Fina; and George Brognon of Brussels chief geologist for Petrofina, who came to Calgary a few months ago to complete the groundwork for the Canadian program. In interviews with this writer, they spoke of the background of the company, and the hopes for the future in Alberta.
As representatives of the first continental European company to step into Alberta oil, they pointed out the recognition by the Belgian government that dollars spent in North America now mean a long term supply of dollars for North American purchases when the Marshall Plan runs out, and Europe has to live on its own resources. They stressed the recognition by Belgium's government and Petrofina that Canada is one of the safest places (politically and geographically) to invest capital, and Alberta Oil is one of the brightest prospects for reaping of a longterm supply of vital dollars.
Those views are important, for Petrofina has problems in common with the warhit nations of Western Europe. Petrofina, organized by venturesome and oilwise Belgians thirty years ago, made its production start in Rumania. By the time World War II came along, the company had 8,500,000 barrels a year oil production in Rumania, a 30,000 barrel a day refinery in Rumania and a 15,000 barrel plant in France. It was marketing oil products in the British Isles, France, Belgium, Holland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, the Belgian Congo, French Africa and Portuguese Angola.
The War disrupted all that. First the Germans got their hands on the Rumanian wells and refinery. Finally the Russians moved in, and the Rumanian Communist government confiscated the wells and refinery. Mr. Nitescu, who finally escaped from Rumania after the Communists took over, won't talk of his experiences, except to describe them as 'unpleasant'. The French refinery was destroyed during the battle of France.
Today Petrofina is rapidly rebuilding. In all its original marketing area, except those nations behind the Iron Curtain, it is supplying around 50,000 barrels daily, using products obtained from other oil companies. In partnership with ANGLOIRANIAN OIL COMPANY it will complete within a year a 35,000-barrel refinery at Antwerp, Belgium. Under agreement with AngloIranian it will have 35,000 barrels a day of the capacity of a Dunkirk, France, refinery now being built. Into that plant has gone what could be salvaged from Petrofina's warwrecked French refinery.
To find the raw material (crude oil) to balance what it is buying and will continue to buy from others for its European and African market, Petrofina selected the Americas. The Belgian government approved its use of Petrofina's own dollar resources for this purpose. First step was Mexico, where Petrofina acquired a small interest in an exploration project of American independents, which has recently resulted in an oil strike. Alberta however, was picked as the key to Petrofina's future in exploration and production and the major effort will be in this province. Four important moves have been made in Alberta so far.
To ensure production revenue, Petrofina joined the PACIFIC PETROLEUMS GROUP in the purchase of five proven Redwater Crown Reserve wellsites on May 11th. Petrofina's Canadian unit has 25% interest in northeast quarter of section 22-56-2lw4th, estimated to have a gross oil recoverable of 3,120,000 barrels, and 25% in lsd 13 of 26-56-21w4th, estimated to have oil recoverable of 1,230,000 barrels. All five wells should be completed within two months.
In a drive to find new fields, Petrofina has purchased a 25% interest in a Devonian test well and 99,840 acres of Crown reservation in the SMITH area of north central Alberta, This well, PACIFICPETROFINAJULIL WILSON No. 3, will start drilling shortly. Other participants are PACIFIC PETROLEUMS FORTUNE OIL CORPORATION and BRADLEY OILS all Calgary independents.
Canadian Fina, on its own, has just taken a farmout from the HUSKY OIL & REFINING and PHILLIPS PETROLEUM GROUP, covering lands spread over three townships in the CORONATION area of south central Alberta, and will drill a Devonian test immediately. Canadian Fins will get a half interest in the spread for drilling of two test wells.
Canadian Fina has also just acquired a 25% interest in a 1,350,000 spread of Crown reservations in the KEG RIVER region of northwest Alberta, and will shortly join in a combined geological and geophysical program on these lands. The other participants include SUNRAY OIL COMPANY with 25%, TIDEWATER ASSOCIATED OIL COMPANY 25%, PACIFIC PETROLEUMS 20% and the G. M. BELL GROUP 5%.
It's nearly half way around the world from Rumania to Alberta, and a long step for a Belgian company. The Rumanian pastures that turned from green to Red have been supplanted by the green pastures of Alberta in a drive to restore Petrofina's position in the oil-producing world. The industry's good wishes go to Petrofina.