Majors exiting Canada's oil sands acting in own interest: Trudeau

Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:44pm EST
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By Liz Hampton

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday dismissed a recent string of major oil companies selling their holdings in the heavy oil sands of Western Canada and moving investments to shale fields.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote) and Marathon Oil (MRO.N: Quote) this week disclosed sales of operations that largely removed both firms from the carbon-heavy oil reserves. Shell is selling its interests to Canadian Natural Resources(CNQ.TO: Quote). Last month, Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote) wrote down all of its oil reserves from its Kearl project in northern Alberta, saying extracting the oil was no longer economic at current prices.

"Businesses will make the decisions they make," Trudeau said.

In a wide-ranging media briefing, Trudeau said oil and gas executives are looking for greater clarity on regulations and pricing, arguing that the world is ready for a low-carbon economy. He also said Canada and the United States are working on border issues, including migration and trade.

Trudeau said a Canadian consensus on a carbon price to meet international climate change goals shows the nation can move forward on difficult issues.

"The one thing I’ve heard consistently from leaders in the energy industry is the need for clarity in terms of what (the) frame of regulations, (and) pricing is going to be," he said.

Promoting both renewable and conventional energy sources shows "investments in Canada are sound investments, not just for short term, but for the long term," Trudeau said." We're going to see many people interested in partnering in drawing on Canadians' great natural resources."

Referring to a U.S. proposal for a tax on imports to stimulate job creation, which his government opposes, Trudeau cautioned that details are still lacking, and agreement is far from assured.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a round table at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, U.S. March 9, 2017.  REUTERS/Trish Badger