Canada’s Northern Edge: PetroChina Investing in Oilsands
October 10, 2009
Draft! My Google Map entitled Oil Sands, delicious, papergirls, EndNote, YouTube, Draft!
Places of interest:
MacKay River: In the story on The difference is spelling of McKay in Fort McKay and MacKay River is confusing. Is McKay River (known locally as Red River) the same river as MacKay River? Where is Devon?
National Geographic suggests the potential worth of the Alberta oil sands is $80 trillion.
Bitumen is basically oil-soaked sand.
1965 Karl Clark, a patient chemist, took 45 years to perfect a hot-water process in which bitumen frothed to the top and sand settled to the bottom. He used his wife’s washing machine. In 1965 the Great Canadian Oil Sands Company (now Suncor) ran the first commercial application of Clark’s hot-water process producing 45,000 barrels a day. In order to create the mine to feed the hot-water process, thousands of trees were bulldozed (Nikiforuk 2008).
1976 The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) founded in 1976, has been Canada’s private sector leader in the promotion of international trade and investment liberalization. The members of the CCCE include the chief executive officers of 150 leading Canadian corporations. These companies collectively administer close to $3.0 trillion in assets, have annual revenues of more than $650 billion and account for a significant majority of Canada’s private sector investment, exports, training and research and development.
1997 Among other initiatives, the CCCE organized and hosted the first-ever APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit in 1997, during which it received His Excellency Jiang Zemin, then-President of China.
2002 Suncor began producing oil at MacKay River in 2002, while Firebag stages 1 and 2 began producing oil in 2004 and 2006 respectively. The sequence and timing of additional stages of Firebag and a potential expansion of the MacKay River facility will be considered as part of a review of oil sands growth projects.
2006 “In 2006, more than 100 of Canada’s public companies were acquired by foreign interests. The list includes some of the oldest and most well-established companies across a broad spectrum of industries – everything from hotels to retailing, to metals and mining. And the trend continues. I sometimes worry that we may all wake up one day and find that as a nation, we have lost control of our affairs. I think we ought to have a vigorous debate about the extent to which it matters whether or not ownership of our economy resides in Canada. I believe that ownership matters a lot. It matters not only for economic reasons but, more importantly in my opinion, for our own sense of self-esteem and pride in our country. My concern is not rooted in any chauvinism or in any antipathy towards foreign investment. Far from it. I happen to believe that globalization is a very positive development and that trade and investment across borders is to be encouraged. Canada benefits mightily from being “open for business” and we mustn’t do anything to change that. My concern stems from the fact that the world is awash with capital and that the consolidation trend in many industries will inevitably continue. We are a small country with a relatively small population. Canadian companies typically are not of a size to be global players. All too often, decisions affecting the future of important firms and the communities that they sustain are made solely with a view to the short-term financial consequences. I find it particularly bothersome that so many of our natural resource companies – which I would argue represent unique and irreplaceable assets – are now owned elsewhere. So what are some actions that we might consider taking? Well, what if we were to consider the feasibility of adopting ownership restrictions for certain sensitive sectors of our economy that would be similar to those that now apply to our financial institutions? After all, I would argue that it is a demonstrable fact that public policy regarding the ownership of our banks and insurance companies has served the country well; there is no shortage of competition in the financial services sector and the services available to Canadians are as comprehensive and as affordable as exist anywhere in the world. Securities regulation is another area where some useful debate could be undertaken. Many feel that Canada now has the most bidder-friendly environment in the world and that this may not always be in our country’s best interests. Under our rules, shareholder rights plans – also known as takeover defenses or “poison pills” – fall away after a very short 60 or 90 days, leaving the target company’s board with far too little time in which to explore alternatives. I believe that it is important for us as Canadians to have companies based here that are global leaders (D’Alessandro 2007-05-03).”
2005-11-18 “CEO Mission to China Builds on Canada’s Strategic Partnership with the World’s Largest Emerging Market.” Seventeen senior business leaders representing a wide swath of the Canadian economy will arrive in Beijing on Sunday for a five-day mission to further the development of stronger trade and investment ties between Canada and the People’s Republic of China. Organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the mission marks the first purely private sector visit to China by a broadly based group of chief executives from among Canada’s largest enterprises. “Since the Council several years ago designated China as a country of the highest strategic importance, we have continued to seek opportunities to build an ever-broader foundation of mutual trust and fruitful bilateral cooperation.” The mission is led by Mr. d’Aquino and Richard L. George, Chairman of the CCCE and President and Chief Executive Officer of Suncor Energy Inc. Other participants include the CEOs of AGF Management Limited, Bentall Capital LLP, Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canadian Oil Sands Limited, CanWest Global Communications Corp., Enbridge Inc., Harvard Developments Inc., Palliser Furniture Ltd., Pengrowth Management Limited, Petro-Canada, Polygon Homes Ltd., Power Corporation of Canada and Yanke Group of Companies. The CEO mission to China follows the recent establishment of the Canada-China Strategic Partnership by the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, and His Excellency Hu Jintao, President of the People’s Republic of China. The Partnership, which was announced during President Hu’s visit to Ottawa in September, represents a watershed in relations between Canada and China, encompassing a wide range of bilateral and international areas. China is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, after the United States. The Canadian and Chinese governments have pledged to double bilateral trade within five years, to about $60 billion a year by 2010. The Canadian CEOs will spend three days in Beijing followed by two days in Shanghai. The agenda includes meetings with senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, China International Capital Corporation, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and CITIC Group. “The emergence of China as a world economic power is opening up huge trade and investment opportunities for Canada,” Mr. d’Aquino said. “The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is committed to working closely at home and abroad to transform opportunity into success.” The CCCE, founded in 1976, has been Canada’s private sector leader in the promotion of international trade and investment liberalization. Among other initiatives, the CCCE organized and hosted the first-ever APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit in 1997, during which it received His Excellency Jiang Zemin, then-President of China. The members of the CCCE include the chief executive officers of 150 leading Canadian corporations. These companies collectively administer close to $3.0 trillion in assets, have annual revenues of more than $650 billion and account for a significant majority of Canada’s private sector investment, exports, training and research and development. In addition to Mr. d’Aquino and Mr. George, the members of the CCCE’s Executive Committee are: Honorary Chairman A. Charles Baillie; and Vice-Chairmen Dominic D’Alessandro, Paul Desmarais, Jr., Jacques Lamarre, Gwyn Morgan and Gordon Nixon, the chief executives respectively of Manulife Financial, Power Corporation of Canada, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., EnCana Corporation and Royal Bank of Canada.
2009-09-01 “In a blockbuster [tentative] deal, privately owned Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. said PetroChina International Investment Co. Ltd. will buy a majority stake in its operations for $1.9 billion, marking the largest venture by China in the Canadian oilsands to date. [This is still to be reviewed by federal Industry Minister Tony Clement under the Investment Canada Act to evaluate the transaction’s net benefit to Canada.] Athabasca Oil Sands said the state-owned firm, one of the world’s most valuable oil and gas companies, will acquire a 60 per cent working interest in the MacKay River and Dover oilsands projects. “This deal shows that the biggest energy company in the world has chosen Athabasca as their partner,” chief executive and president Sveinung Svarte said in a conference call Monday. ” They clearly told us that’s because they like our assets the best and, obviously, they (the oilsands) are the crude oil story.” The two in-situ projects sit on approximately five billion barrels of bitumen that have yet to be developed, and are part of Athabasca’s almost 10 billion barrels of bitumen reserves. The play is one of the largest in the Athabasca region:about 121,400 hectares. “The reason we chose PetroChina over other some of the other bids was, obviously, their financial strength,” chairman Bill Gallacher said. “But also their technological capabilities related to heavy oil and(steam assisted gravity drainage), which we believe will benefit our project both efficiency-wise and production-wise (O’Meara 2009-09-01.”
Bill Gallacher is Chair of the privately-owned Calgary-based Athabasca Oil Sands Corp which made a blockbuster deal with state-owned PetroChina International Investment Co. Ltd. -one of the world’s most valuable oil and gas companies- who will acquire a 60 per cent working interest for $1.9 billion in the MacKay River and Dover oilsands projects which Athabasca Oil Sands Corp will continue to operate, marking the largest venture by China in the Canadian oilsands to date. company said the projects, which it will continue to operate, will cost between $15 billion and $20 billion to develop. It has filed for provincial approval for both projects and intends to file an application for the first 35,000-barrel-per-day phase of MacKay River at the end of the year [. . .] Athabasca Oil Sands said it had notified federal and provincial officials on the proposed Chinese investment, which would make the foreign entity a majority stakeholder in the oilsands projects. Gallacher did not anticipate any issues to arise from the Competition Bureau on the deal. (O’Meara 2009-09-01.”
Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the mission marks the first purely private sector visit to China by a broadly based group of chief executives from among Canada’s largest enterprises. The (CCCE) founded in 1976, has been Canada’s private sector leader in the promotion of international trade and investment liberalization. The members of the CCCE include the chief executive officers of 150 leading Canadian corporations. These companies collectively administer close to $3.0 trillion in assets, have annual revenues of more than $650 billion and account for a significant majority of Canada’s private sector investment, exports, training and research and development. Among other initiatives, the CCCE organized and hosted the first-ever APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation) CEO Summit in 1997, during which it received His Excellency Jiang Zemin, then-President of China. “Many of our members have friendships and commercial relationships in China stretching back years and in some cases decades,” said CCCE Chief Executive and President Thomas d’Aquino.
Thomas d’Aquino is “President and Chief Executive of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He has been described by Peter C. Newman as “the most powerful influence on public policy formation in Canadian history”, and listed by historian Jack Granatstein as one of the 100 most influential Canadians of the twentieth century. A prolific writer and speaker, he has worked as special assistant to the Prime Minister, special counsel on international trade law and international advisor on strategic business problems (Northern Edge).”
David Stewart-Patterson is the “CCCE’s Executive Vice President. He is also the author of Post Mortem: Why Canada’s Mail Won’t Move, described by the Financial Post as “rather like reading a less gentle version of one of Studs Terkel’s oral histories”. A former journalist, he has worked as parliamentary correspondent for The Globe and Mail‘s Report on Business and as business editor for CTV’s Canada AM (Northern Edge).”
Northern Gateway project The multi-billion dollar proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project to transport 400,000 barrels of oil sand production involving a new twin pipeline system running from the oilsands in Alberta, to a new marine terminal in Kitimat, British Columbia to export petroleum and import condensate. In 2005-04-14 Enbridge CEO Patrick D. Daniel announced that Enbridge had entered into a memorandum of understanding with PetroChina International Company Limited to cooperate on the development of the Gateway Pipeline and supply of crude oil from Canada to China. Daniel noted that the agreement with PetroChina was built on the favourable environment for trade between Canada and China which was cultivated by [former] Prime Minister Paul Martin, and the efforts of [former] Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to stimulate Chinese interest in the oil sands.” The project was shelved in 2006 when the market cooled. By 2009 as China’s thirst for energy and need to secure supply has increased perhaps the Northern Gateway Project might be reconsidered ( (O’Meara 2009-09-01).”
Enbridge Enbridge Inc. is involved in energy transportation and distribution in North America and internationally. As a transporter of energy, Enbridge operates, in Canada and the U.S., the world’s longest crude oil and liquids transportation system. The Company also has international operations and a growing involvement in the natural gas transmission and midstream businesses. As a distributor of energy, Enbridge owns and operates Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company, and provides distribution services in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and New York State. Enbridge employs approximately 4,000 people, primarily in Canada, the U.S. and South America. Enbridge’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada and on the New York Stock Exchange in the U.S. under the symbol ENB. Information about Enbridge is available on the Company’s web site at http://www.enbridge.com. Enbridge proposed the Northern Gateway Project and is involved in internal pipeline inspection and invests heavily in innovative leak detection technology. Enbridge has a computer system that can electronically monitor pipelines 24/7 from the Enbridge operations control centre. They also promise to put in safety control valves and leak detection systems to provide a strong safeguard for the environment.”
Andrew Nikiforuk published Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent with Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation-Greystone Books in 2008 in which he argues that, “Canadian taxpayers, who made $150 million [Canadian] in royalties from mining activities between 1966 and 2002, have spent more than $4 billion tidying up scores of contaminated sites…” (2008:100)..
Webliography and Bibliography
D’Alessandro, Dominic. 2007. “How can we preserve Canadian ownership?” Perspectives: 8.
d’Aquino, Thomas and David Stewart-Patterson. Northern Edge: How Canadians Can Triumph in the Global Economy.
Gelsi, Steve. 2009-09-01. “Energy stocks fall hard as broad market weighs.” MarketWatch. Issue:
O’Meara, Dina. 2009. “China’s $1.9B Alberta oilsands deal: PetroChina partners with Athabasca Oil Sands.” Calgary Herald.
Nikiforuk, Andrew. 2008. Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. Vancouver: David Suzuki Foundation-Greystone Books.
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