Reuters is reporting that the Chinese government controlled corporation Sinopec's $4.65Billion investment in Syncrude is a done deal. Prime Minister Harper has approved the sale. Good! I wonder how much that deal came into play in China opening up its borders to Alberta beef again? That was announced today too.
Our recent random sample survey of Albertans values asked if Harper should stop the Chinese from investing in Alberta's oilsands. The results were 45% agreed that China should be stopped from investing in the oilsands. However 55% believed that China should be allowed to invest in our oilsands. I agree with the majority. This is a smart move by China, a prudent sale by ConocoPhillips and it might be a good influence on the other Syncrude owners to raise their environmental performance standards.
We have lots of "foreign" (meaning not American) investment in the oilsands already. We have Britain, France, Norway, Japan, Hong Kong to name a few, investing already. I think the more diversity of international investment the better it is for Alberta. China is in now. My bets are that India will not be far behind and I would not be surprised if Russia and Mexico invested eventually too.
What we need to be assured of is that China understands that they are tenants and it is the citizens of Alberta who actually own the resource. We need be sure or provincial and federal governments enforce the oilsands environmental standards more aggressively. The Syncrude dead ducks incident proves that. With China in with such a large investment, maybe the provincial and federal governments will be emboldened to be more assertive about monitoring and enforcing environmental standards. That would of course have to apply to all operators and that sure can't be anything but good.
ConocoPhillips divests its Syncrude stake just before the court decision on the consequences of 1600 ducks dying in the tailing pond. That decision comes out later today and should be a must read for all Albertans as responsible owners of the oilsands. We need to be sure our tenants understand we will not tolerate indifference to the environment, habitat, reclamation, water usage and biodiversity as a result of oilsands exploitation.