EnCana Corp, Canada’s biggest energy company, is going to buck the trend in the oil industry of mergers, and split into two separate oil and natural gas firms in an effort to wring out more value with crude prices at record highs.

The new oil firm, worth about a third of the enterprise value, will operate Alberta oil sands and U.S. refining assets, which EnCana holds as part of a joint venture with ConocoPhillips. It will also hang onto Canadian plains natural gas assets.

The natural gas firm will operate Canadian foothills and U.S. properties, located mainly in the Rocky Mountain states and Texas. It will be North America’s second-largest natural gas producer.

“We have assembled an outstanding portfolio of unconventional natural gas, oil and in-situ oilsands assets. Our strong operational and financial performance has shown that our resource play model is working extremely well and we are ideally positioned for the future,” EnCana Chief Executive Randy Eresman said in a statement.

Investors are questioning the needs for a split. “I don’t know if the true worth of EnCana is really going to change by cutting up the pie in different pieces. It’s an efficiently run entity now,” said Garey Aitken, chief investment officer at Bissett Investment Management, which owns more than two million EnCana shares. “I don’t see that there’s an impediment to them executing on their (current) business plan. I’m surprised.”

Follow the money Garey, follow the money…