China's state-owned energy giants covet Canadian potash

Government documents reveal that two of China's biggest state-owned energy corporations have approached a Canadian federal minister to express their interest in acquiring stakes in the country's potash and fertilizer sectors.

The Calgary Herald reports that government documents obtained by the Canadian media indicate that Minister Joe Oliver traveled to China where he met with the chairmen of CNOOC and Sinopec, two of China's largest state-owned enterprises.

Both companies expressed an interest in investing in Canada's fertilizer and potash sectors.

The documents also indicate that CNOOC and Sinopec, two of China's leading energy titans, consider Canada to be a desirable investment destination and that China wanted an "early conclusion" of a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement which was recently signed by China and Canada, and which has triggered fervent debate in the Canadian legislature.

According to the documents "CNOOC is actively looking at further projects in Canada, including potash given that CNOOC is a major player in China's fertilizer market."

Sinopec, which was in the middle of acquiring Canadian oil and gas company Daylight Energy Ltd. for a $2.2 billion consideration at the time, expressed interest in liquefied national gas as well as potash.

News of the Oliver's China trip comes just after the Harper government scuppered an attempted hostile takeover of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (NYSE:POT) – the world's biggest potash supplier, by diversified mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP).