Canada says India slow to invest in Alberta oil sands

Sun Oct 7, 2012 8:39am EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Indian companies are lagging behind when it comes to investing in Canada's giant oil sands but could well start making deals within the next five years, Canadian Energy Minister Joe Oliver says.

Oliver, speaking to Reuters before a visit to Delhi and Mumbai, said Canadian energy industry needs C$650 billion ($663 billion) in investment over the next decade. Ottawa concedes much of it will have to come from abroad.

To some political consternation in Canada, China is rapidly buying up assets in the tar sands of northern Alberta, one of the world's biggest crude oil deposits. But India - the world's fourth largest oil importer - has yet to conclude a deal.

"I think they realize ... they are certainly behind others, and they acknowledge that," Oliver said.

"They are looking to Canada now with increasing interest. I can't predict what precisely they'll do, but I'd certainly be surprised that if in five years from now the picture didn't look quite a bit different."

Last month sources said a trio of state-run Indian oil companies had bid $5 billion for stakes in Canadian oil sands holdings owned by ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote).

The bid from the group, which comprises producers Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.NS: Quote) and Oil India Ltd (OILI.NS: Quote) with refiner and retailer Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS: Quote), is the first by Indian energy companies for assets in Canada.

Canada is now deciding whether to approve a $15.1 billion bid by Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK: Quote) for oil producer Nexen Inc NXY.TO, which is active in the oil sands.   Continued...