French oil and gas company Total has announced that its subsidiary Total E&P Canada is launching a public offer to acquire all the issued and outstanding shares of UTS Energy at a price of C$1.30 per share, or a total amount of close to C$617 million.

According to the company, the offer is a 100% cash offer and represents a premium of approximately 57% over the closing price of UTS Energy’s (UTS) shares on January 27, 2009 and approximately 51% over the weighted average trading price for the last 30 days.

UTS’s main asset is a 20% stake in the Fort Hills Project, located in the Athabasca region, in Alberta, approximately 100km northeast of Fort McMurray. Petro-Canada, a Canadian company, is the operator of this project with a 60% stake, and the remaining 20% stake being held by Teck Cominco.

The oil company said that the asset is expected to strengthen Total’s portfolio in the Athabasca region, comprising Joslyn Project and the Northern Lights Project, which are owned 74% and 60% by Total, respectively.

Total is the operator of the Joslyn Project and the project will be mainly developed using surface mining technologies. The production potential of the project is currently estimated at 230,000 barrels per day. Total also holds a 50% interest in the Surmont lease, located about 60 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray.