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Total headquarters near Paris.

JACQUES BRINON/Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

If the pace of deals in the energy sector in the first three days of this year persists, then 2012 is going to be a very busy one indeed.

Canadian investors are probably focused on PetroChina International Investment Co. Ltd.'s deal to buy a 40 per cent stake in the MacKay River project from Calgary's Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. In the United States, though, there were two other deals announced on Tuesday.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. struck a $2.5-billion (U.S.) deal to create a joint venture with Devon Energy Corp., to develop five shale oil and gas fields, marking Sinopec's first move into the U.S. energy sector. And France's Total SA struck a $2.3-billion deal to take a minority stake in a shale field with Chesapeake Energy Corp.

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According to some reports, the interest comes as foreign companies look for expertise in developing unconventional energy sources, in which U.S. companies are particularly strong. However, some of these deals are hardly new. Dow Jones pointed out that the Chesapeake deal is Total's second joint venture with the U.S. company.

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