Still plenty of private cash for oilsands, natural resources minister says – by John Spears and Vanessa Lu (Toronto Star – December 11, 2012)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

If cabinet ministers from Canada’s big oil producing provinces are worried by the federal government’s new limits on foreign investment in the oilsands, they’re not showing it.

And a spokesman for Canada’s oil producers said the new policy provides some welcome clarity for the sector.

They all chimed in after federal natural resources Minister Joe Oliver told an industry meeting in Toronto there is still “plenty” of private sector money for the oilsands.

Last week, the federal government had slapped limits on how much foreign state-owned companies can invest, especially in oilsands projects. But it approved takeovers of Nexen Inc. by China’s state-owned firm CNOOC. It also allowed the takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp. by Petronas of Malaysia.

After a speech to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Oliver said the new rules won’t hurt the oilsands, as there is a “huge amount of capital available globally and quite a bit available inside our country.”

Oliver says the oilsands has “overwhelmingly” been advanced by the private sector and there is still “plenty” of investment money there.

He says the government is not denying future foreign state-owned investment in the oilsands, as they can still look at joint-venture opportunities in a minority position.

The province with the most at stake in the new policy is Alberta, but the province’s finance minister Doug Horner said Monday he’s not worried that the new policy will scare off investment.

“They’ve been shut out of controlling, they haven’t been shut out of investment, and I think that’s the critical difference,” Horner said after speaking to the petroleum producers.

“We’ll see how it plays out in the future with some of the other groups involved in oil sands,” he said. “And it’s just oil sands, so there is an opportunity for other investments in the province. There’s opportunities for joint venture agreements.”

Saskatchewan energy minister Tim McMillan is also willing to see how the policy plays out. “We’re supportive,” he said in an interview at the conference.

“Foreign investment is very important to Saskatchewan developing our resources. We would generally agree that foreign government ownership of companies is different, and should be treated a little bit different than free enterprise.”

For the rest of this editorial, please go to the Toronto Star website:–still-plenty-of-private-cash-for-oilsands-natural-resources-minister-says