Chevron Corp (CVX.N), the second-largest U.S.-based oil producer, is exploring the sale of its 20 per cent stake in the Athabasca Oil Sands project, which could fetch about US$2.5 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company has discussed with investment banks the prospect of selling the stake in the western Canadian oil sands project, one of the people said.

The possible sale comes after Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.N) last month agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) for US$8.5 billion.

Chevron does not find the oil sands business appealing in the current environment, as low oil prices make it more challenging for global producers to generate strong profits, the people said, declining to be named as the matter is confidential.

The California-based company is close to making a decision, taking into account factors such as price, the people added.

"As a matter of policy, Chevron does not comment on future development plans or commercial discussions, Leif Sollid, a spokesperson for the company told BNN via email ."However, Chevron is committed to the safe and responsible development of Canada’s energy resources and we look forward to working with the co-venturers in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project to continue to deliver strong production and financial performance from the asset.

-- With files from BNN