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Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

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Canadians Issue Resounding Hell-No to Beijing

In the latest rush to take advantage of oil opportunities in Canada, Exxon Mobil announced it signed a deal to acquire Celtic Exploration Ltd. for around $2.6 billion. The deal would give the U.S.-based supermajor access to shale reserves in British Columbia and Alberta. It also follows a string of moves by rival foreign companies to establish a foundation in North America. While the Canadian government is eager to entice investors to its oil reserves, recent public opinion surveys suggest most are wary of what looks like a foreign takeover of the petroleum sector.

Exxon's division in Canada announced it acquired 545,000 acres of shale in British Columbia and another 104,000 acres in neighboring Alberta province in the deal with Calgary-based Celtic Exploration. As of December, Celtic estimated the reserve potential at around 128 million barrels of oil equivalent. Andrew Barry, president of ExxonMobil Canada, said the acquisition adds "significant" resources to its unconventional portfolio in North America. Celtic, for its part, said the acquisition was in the company's best interest and represented a fair value for shareholders.

The Canadian government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper had said it was important for the country to expand its economic footprint outside of North America. In February, the prime minister traveled to Beijing in order to draw Chinese investors to his country's oil sector. Canada is among the world leaders in terms of oil and officials there had said roughly $500 billion is needed to keep the momentum going into the next decade. Exxon's bid to take on Celtic for $2.6 billion follows a $15 billion bid by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. to acquire Canadian oil and natural gas company Nexen. Malaysia's state-owned Petronas, meanwhile, has offered more than $5 billion for Progress Energy Resources, based in Calgary.

Exxon, CNOOC and others are looking to North America as a way to secure their portfolios against rival action in Russia and Latin America. A public opinion survey, however, finds that most Canadians are wary of foreign takeovers. Survey company Angus Reid Public Opinion, in an online survey involving 1,000 Canadian adults, found that most respondents reacted negatively to foreign control of their natural resources. The survey noted that most "are not particularly supportive" of the CNOOC deal in particular.

Whether that sentiment extends to China exclusively remains to be seen, though recent trade disputes in the renewable energy sector suggest that may indeed be the case. Tuesday's town-hall debate between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney sparked outrage from Chinese state media, which claimed the economic tirades against Beijing did little to foster bilateral friendships.

"U.S. politicians need to paint a truer picture for their constituents," a report from the Xinhua news agency reads. "This picture should embrace China's rise and acknowledge that engaging with China will amplify win-win results, but scapegoating, isolating and vilifying China will hurt both sides."

With Beijing warning the Harper government not to let political matters interfere with business affairs, the race to tap into North American shale may be a reflection of the broader geopolitical issues at stake.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com

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  • G.J.W. on October 19 2012 said:
    Canadians want nothing to do with Red China. Scores of Canadians want nothing to do with Harper either. While other country's are escorting Red China out of their territories....Harper has brought that country, right onto our Canadian soil.

    China is showing aggression around the globe. China hacked into other country's secret files. They sold infected electronic components to other country's. U.S. missiles and other weapons, had infected components purchased from China.

    Harper is a dictator and, an out and out bully. Even other country's can't stand Harper's bullying nor his hissy fits, when he doesn't get his own way.

    BC will fight to the last ditch, before they will permit that dirty lethal Bitumen, to come into that beautiful province. Harper and Gordon Campbell did enough dirt to BC and the people. They signed sneak deals regarding the Enbridge pipeline, behind the BC peoples backs.

    Enbridge has done nothing other than blatantly lie, and use every dirty tactic in the book, to lie their pipeline into BC. They haven't cleaned up, their last 804 spills.

    Not only did Harper sell huge chunks of the tar sands to China. He also gave them all the jobs too. He has permitted company's to hire cheap Chinese labor. There is nothing in the tar sands for the Canadian people, what-so-ever. Who will be hired at the tar sands, Canadians or cheap Chinese labor?

    Harper is a traitor, committing High Treason, for selling us out, to a Communist country. Canadians want nothing to do with Red China, what-so-ever.
  • John Lang on October 19 2012 said:
    CNOOC values Nexen more than its current Canadian owners, who apparently have better ideas for their capital than keeping it in Nexen. So let's allow the sale. If we do, Nexen will continue to operate, employing lots of Canadians, and the Canadian vendors will have $15 billion to invest in additional employment-creating ventures. No-brainer. If our government disallows the sale to CNOOC, they should be ready to buy the company themselves, matching the Chinese offer. This is not a sale of resources, merely a sale of a licence to extract Canadian resources while paying big royalties and taxes.

    If we wish to continue to buy mountains of stuff from China, in return for giving them mountains of loonies, and if we do not make anything they want, we should allow them to dispose of the loonies by buying assets here. Loonies all must ultimately be spent in Canada.
  • Dan on October 19 2012 said:
    Obviously you are a lefty G.J.W. and it doesn't matter what Harper does you will be against it. We as Canadians are doing very well, because we have the Conservatives.
  • Heretic on October 19 2012 said:
    The Canadian government will do what it wants, and the Canadian people will roll over and beg like they always do. Bother me not with the opinions of slaves.
  • jonathan on October 22 2012 said:
    If i am Cnooc i will take out my bid and invest the money elsewhere. Nexen do not worth 15 billions. Energy sector will suffer from that setback and that's Canada net benefits....meaning less project less jobs and probably less accessibility to chinese markets altogether. I am curious though to see if Exxon's bid will go through or not. After what the big global financial mess that the US did, they are certainly still the welcome to invest over here. Imagine the hundred millions jobs that they erase by having a greedy and savage capitalism system. Think it twice...

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