Canada sees opportunities for Chinese investment in oil sands - minister

CALGARY, Alberta, June 8 (Reuters) - Canada believes there are opportunities for Chinese investment in the Alberta oil sands, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said on Thursday, adding the government would welcome investment in the sector from any nation.

The vast oil sands deposits in northern Alberta are home to the world’s third-largest crude reserves but also carry some of the highest production costs globally.

There has been an exodus of international oil companies that this year alone have sold off around $22.5 billion in oil sands assets to Canadian producers, stoking concerns the future development of the resource could stall.

Speaking on the fourth day of a five-day trip to China, Carr said the government’s “minds are open” with regard to Chinese investment.

“We think there are opportunities and we laid out, along with experts from industry, what we believe to be opportunities for them,” Carr told reporters on a conference call.

“We would welcome investment from any nation that’s interested in the oil sands. The trend of capital flows over the last little while has been international investors have been looking at their opportunities and decided to spread their resources, whereas Canadian investors have stepped up.”

The previous Canadian government under Conservative Stephen Harper had a policy of limiting control of the oil sands by state-owned companies, such as China’s CNOOC. They are still able to hold minority stakes in projects. (Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Bernard Orr)