Foreign influence in Canada’s oil patch

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver’s contention that the National Energy Board hearings on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline are loaded down with foreign special interests is exactly right. But it is not the “environmentalists and other radical groups” that are the problem. It’s the oil and gas industry.

This Statscan table lays out foreign ownership in Canada’s oil and gas sector. In 2009, foreign corporations controlled 35% of the assets of the sector, received just over half of the revenues, and more than two fifths of the profits.


  • Try not to be quite so xenophobic Marc:)’

  • The figures end in 2009. Terry Glavin has a piece in the Ottawa Citizen outlining the participation of other foreign interests, including China (some inciting of xenophobia here) and France in the Alberta sands or bitumen sands, or tar sands as you prefer. It is quite spectacular to see what foreign takeovers have materialized only recently. To quote Glavin:

    “Beijing has been buying up Alberta’s oilpatch at such a dizzying pace lately it’s hard to keep up. In the spring of 2010, China’s state-owned Sinopec Corp. took a $4.65-billion piece of Syncrude. Then the China Investment Corporation, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party, took possession of a $1.25-billon share of Penn West Petroleum. Last summer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation gobbled up Opti Canada for $2.34 billion. And so on.Then, last month, Sinopec spent $2.2-billion to take over Daylight Energy Ltd., and last week, Petro-China, with the final push of $1.9 billion, became the owner and manager of the MacKay River oilsands project. This is what Ottawa doesn’t want you noticing.”

  • O.k. but let us not loose sight of the duplicitous nature of the meme which Marc’s post efficiently highlighted, namely hoser nationalism. The cons have been playing the faux nationalist card across a number of portfolios. This is just the latest in misdirection on their part. The cons are the party of the ‘comprador bourgeoisie’.

    Defined as:

    “A section of an indigenous middle class allied with foreign investors, multi-national corporations, bankers, and military interests.”

    Check, check, check and mate.

  • Travis makes a good point. The tar sands play is part of the Imperial politics of the U.S. So, Harper and his outriders try and cover the subservient role of Canada by covering the chuck wagon with the flag. Mulroney did the same thing when he was selling out the country on free trade, which set the framework for the North American approach to energy by banning export taxes, and encouraging domestic subsidies to the bitumen industry. Chrétien was the agent of multinational corporate economics. His Captain Canada reputation helped him pull the floor out from under wages by killing welfare and rolling back UI in 1995, and bring in $100 billion of tax breaks in 2000.
    As the Canadian public interest is being shredded, only a few voices make themselves heard, the Council of Canadians, the CAW, the CCPA, arts and cultural groups. At the same time an awful chauvinism around the Vancouver Olympics, and hockey arises. It is as if people respond to losing what they value in Canada by accentuating the “circus” aspect of public life.
    The U.S imperial interest is being “rebalanced” according to a recent Pentagon policy paper to lean against China. That is why the China entry into the U.S. led Alberta play is so interesting. The Canadian compradors have been frustrated to discover that the U.S. is not the reliable partner they thought is was. No twinning of the Ambassador bridge over the Detroit river, and no extension of the Keystone pipeline. So Harper now is planning to play the China card himself with a state visit. Is he going to spy for the Americans, or at the bidding of his corporate partners to put pressure on U.S. opinion as part of the internal struggle against dirty oil?

  • Roger A. P. Fielding

    50% of oil consumed within Canada is imported from – amongst others – Angola and Nigeria. I undestand that this amounts to 800000 to 1 million barrels per day. Why? Are our imports also controlled from offshore? Is the Minister of Energy doing anything about this?

  • The link to Terry Glavin’s Ottawa Citizen piece is dead. Thanks Ottawa Citizen.

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