Rachel Maddow slams China's bid to infiltrate Canadian oil market
After U.S. political commentator Rachel Maddow criticized a Chinese oil company with major stakes in Canada's oil sands for its past dealings with Iran, an Alberta energy expert said Canada faces a "choice" between letting Chinese companies invest in "troubled regimes" like Iran -- or allowing them to invest in Canadian oil sands.
Referring to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)'s $15.1 billion bid to take over Canadian oil giant Nexen, Alberta Energy department special advisor Wenran Jiang said:
"CNOOC would love to invest here [in Canada], but what if we reject their takeover bid for Nexen?"
"If we don't want them to invest in Iran, then we should allow them to invest here."
Maddow focused her attacks on U.S. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose 2011 tax return showed that his blind trust invested in CNOOC.
Maddow said that the CNOOC's proposed buyout of Nexen was the company's second attempt at gaining control of U.S. oil infrastructure for questionable ends. The first bid was in 2005, when CNOOC tried taking over a California-based oil company, but was rejected by members of the U.S. Congress and the Committee on Foreign Investments -- an intergovernmental agency that reviews foreign takeovers of domestic companies that may impact national security.
"They are in the process of trying to buy a Canadian oil company," she said, referencing the CNOOC-Nexen bid.
"But the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S. has some jurisdiction here, because the Canadian company does a lot of business in the Gulf of Mexico... So, this is again a Chinese government-owned giant oil company trying to buy up a chunk of American oil infrastructure."
Maddow also highlighted CNOOC chairman Wang Yilin calling the company's offshore oil rigs a "strategic weapon."
"If you believe them, China is sort of essentially weaponizing its oil industry. At least this part of it. That's the way they talk about it," Maddow said.
Chinese companies and Iran
The natural gas deal highlighted by Maddow is not the first major oil deal between a Chinese state-run oil company and Iran.
CNOOC is one of 41 foreign companies between 2005 and 2010 to have helped Iran develop its oil and gas sector.
China Petrochemical Corp., or Sinopec, signed a 25-year, $100 billion US contract with Iran for production and export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in 2004.
CNOOC's past dealings in Iran seem all the more relevant now that Ottawa has suspended diplomatic ties with Iran, expelling all Iranian diplomats from Canada in early September.