(Adds background and details on potential buyers)
By John Tilak and Nia Williams
TORONTO/CALGARY, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc is weighing the sale of its Petro-Canada retail gasoline station business in order to monetize the asset, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
The move comes after Imperial Oil Ltd, majority-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp, agreed earlier this year to sell 497 Esso gas stations for C$2.8 billion ($2.11 billion).
Suncor, Canada’s biggest energy company, may be able to draw a similar valuation, the sources said, which would peg the Petro-Canada retail gas stations at close to C$8.4 billion. The price would also depend on the terms of the contracts the company has with retailers, the sources said.
Petro-Canada operates about 1,500 gas stations across Canada and is one of the biggest players in the country.
Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said selling the stations is not part of the company’s current asset divestment plan.
“Retail is part of our integrated model as it provides a channel of sale for much of our refinery production,” she said.
Some large oil and gas companies in North America have been moving out of the retail gas business so they can use the capital to invest in exploration and production.
While Suncor would like to sell the whole asset to one party, it is more likely the gas stations will be sold to multiple buyers, given the size of the portfolio, the sources said.
The asset is expected to attract interest from convenience store operators and private equity firms, the sources said.
The buyers of Imperial’s Esso stations were Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc, 7-Eleven Canada Inc and Parkland Fuel Corp.
$1 = 1.3263 Canadian dollars Editing by Marguerita Choy; Editing by Sandra Maler