TORONTO Oct 18 Limits on foreign purchases in
Canada's oil sands do not seem to be causing a drop in
investment in the sector, Canada's Natural Resources Minister
Joe Oliver said on Friday.
Oliver, visiting China by way of South Korea, said he
discussed the new rules with Chinese officials.
"I had no indication from anybody that the decline had
anything to do with those rules," he said on a call with
reporters. "I can't preclude that possibility, but I have no
indication that that's the case."
Canada's Conservative government last year allowed Chinese
firm CNOOC Ltd to buy energy company Nexen, but said
in future, state-owned enterprises would be permitted to acquire
controlling stakes in the oil sands only in exceptional
Many bankers and industry experts read this as a veiled
warning that Chinese state-owned enterprises, which are among
the most acquisitive companies in the sector, ought to steer
clear of making any further plays for oil sands assets in the
western Canadian province of Alberta.
Former Conservative Industry Minister Jim Prentice, now vice
chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, recently
noted that investment in Canada's energy sector had plunged, and
he laid part of the blame on the new rules, which he said were
deterring foreign companies.
Canadian officials have said they welcome minority stakes or
joint ventures by state-owned enterprises in the oil sands.
Oliver said one Chinese official had told him there is often
a quiet period after a big acquisition, and he noted that growth
in China has slowed somewhat.
"I would say that they wish the was rule wasn't there, but
there is no confusion about it," he said.