Canada would consider renewed Chinese investment in the tar sands/oil sands, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told media last week, during a five-day trade mission to the country that is also positioning itself as the new global leader on climate change.
“Chinese investors are no different than investors from anywhere else. They look at costs, they look at prices, and they make their investment decisions,” Carr said. “We think there is opportunity, and we laid out along with experts from the industry what we believe to be Canadian opportunities for them.”
It was former prime minister Stephen Harper who slapped strict limits on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) investing in the tar sands/oil sands, after China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s 2012 acquisition of Nexen Inc. set off a storm of controversy. “Harper’s policy called for assessing investment proposals and takeover bids on a case-by-case approach, granting approval only in exceptional circumstances,” Canadian Press reports, and Carr said the policy of one-off assessments won’t change.
“The Canadian government is prepared to talk to the Chinese government about investments in most sectors of our economy,” he said. “I don’t think that represents a change in public policy but as a general expression of our willingness to talk.”
Natural Resources Canada’s readout from the trade mission focuses as well on the prospects for selling Canadian nuclear technology to China. The trade mission featured a signing ceremony in which Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin and the China National Nuclear Corporation agreed to add advanced fuel technology to two CANDU reactors already operating in China.
“Our government will continue to promote our expertise in clean and safe nuclear power,” Carr said in a release. “Canada’s commitment to expanding its energy partnership with China includes a focus on nuclear energy.”
While he was in Beijing, Carr attended the annual Clean Energy Ministerial, the eighth in a series originally initiated by former U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu following the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen. Participants agreed on a set of shared goals, including grid integration of variable renewable electricity and a campaign to build electric vehicle uptake to 30% of new car sales by 2030. (h/t to Financial Times columnist Ed Crooks for a succinct summary of the Clean Energy Ministerial outcomes.)