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Alberta turns to China for oil sands outlet

July 25, 2012

As predicted by many, US delays in approving the Keystone XL pipeline will not result in any diminishing of Alberta oil sands production . . . it will simply flow west instead of south, to Chinese rather than American end users.  The Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) has bid $15 billion to purchase Canadian producer Nexen.  This, less than a year after another huge state owned Chinese company, Sinopec, purchased Canadian firm Daylight Energy and acquired access to over 300,000 acres of potential oil sand fields.  If the Nexen deal goes through, Chinese state investment in Canadian energy production will top $45 billion in the last half decade.

We can’t point this out often enough:  shipping Alberta oil west across the Pacific represents a much greater environmental risk than shipping it south through the US to the Gulf of Mexico.  Any environmental impact from production will be the same either way; going west means building a pipeline through the remote and beautiful Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, then loading it onto tankers that would have to traverse some of the most treacherous waters on the Pacific Rim.  See this post from last fall for the full details.

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