Get used to China in the oil sands: former diplomat
'We can't develop the oil sands alone.'
Gordon Houlden, director of the University of Alberta’s China Institute, says Albertans need to get more comfortable with Chinese investment in the oil and gas industry if the sector is going to grow. “We can’t develop the oil sands alone,” Houlden says. “Thirty-four million Canadians or 3.6 million Albertans are not going to be able to do that. The capital is going to have to come from somewhere else.”
The China Institute released its annual survey on Albertans’ views on China in October 2012. The results showed 64 per cent of respondents were opposed to Chinese investment in the form of full ownership and 53 per cent were opposed to investment in Alberta’s oil and gas industry by Chinese state-owned companies.
The survey was conducted in July, before CNOOC Ltd.’s $15.1-billion proposal for Nexen Inc. was approved. Albertans may be more averse now than they were then to Chinese investment, but Houlden says Chinese state-owned companies aren’t a lot different than other foreign operators in Alberta.
“CNOOC is not a multinational corporation like Shell or BP,” he says. “But it is very nimble. It’s operating abroad, it’s profit-seeking. It’s listed on the New York and Hong Kong stock exchanges.”