Get used to China in the oil sands: former diplomat

'We can't develop the oil sands alone.'

January 01, 2013

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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.”

Source: University of Alberta China Institute 2012 Albertans’ views on China survey

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2 Responses to “Get used to China in the oil sands: former diplomat”

  1. Julie Ali says:

    I don’t happen to agree with Gordon Houlden who I believe is parroting the current government’s oil industry song and dance for the citizens of Canada.
    I see no reason to take money from this human rights abusing nation to prop up our tarsands.
    I am an ordinary citizen in Alberta and for four decades I have watched the Conservative Party of Alberta fail in its requirements as elected representatives of the people of Alberta.
    Instead of providing good governance we have been subject to the sort of politics that is familiar to developing countries.
    Laws are used to legally ensure that the oil industry can proceed with development even against objections of citizens who own the land and who are impacted by such development. Such laws prevent us going to court to defend our property rights. I believe that this sort of anti-democratic behavior by governments to act as the oil industry front people (as well as the cheerleaders for corporations that pay for their election campaigns) is an affront to our democracy and should not be tolerated by citizens.

    I also believe that independent bodies such as the China Institute should not be lecturing citizens how to think and how to consider economic trade agreements. We are able –as private citizens decide for ourselves and we do not need more propaganda from university entities that was created by funding from the Alberta Government. In other words, we already get enough such baloney from the government of Alberta and the federal government of Canada (think of the Action plan advertisements) and we don’t need our universities with the help of a former government employee expounding on the 1984 state messages.

    I think it would be more productive for this director to ask China to evolve into a democracy that does not abuse its own citizens and destroy other nations (think Tibet). Rather then telling Canadians to get comfortable with trading our souls for the cash of a dictatorship maybe Mr. Houlden should limit his discourse to the Chinese themselves. We are already able to understand who needs to evolve in Alberta and it isn’t the citizens.