Canada defends oil sands foreign investment limits

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver | Image from Wikimedia Commons

Canada's oil sands are fine without foreign money – at least according the country's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

Speaking with Reuters after a visit to China, Oliver defended Canada's rules that limit foreign purchases of oil sands. He said the limits were not pulling investments away from the sector.

"I had no indication from anybody that the decline had anything to do with those rules," he said on a call with reporters. "I can't preclude that possibility, but I have no indication that that's the case."

In 2011 Canada allowed Chinese energy giantĀ China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) to take over oil sands operatorĀ Opti Canada Inc. One year later, the state-owned company also acquired Canada's Nexen – the biggest ever foreign investment in the country.

But after these deals Canada announced that in the future, state-owned enterprises would only be allowed to make such purchases in "exceptional circumstances." Officials said they are still open to minority-stake buys and joint ventures.

Oliver's defence comes after former Conservative Industry Minister Jim Pretince blamed the new rules for a decline in energy sector investment.