Ottawa’s approval of both the CNOOC-Nexen deal and Petronas’ purchase of Progress Energy continues to reverberate north of the border as Canadians debate the future of their vast oil resources. The Ottawa Citizen says that Prime Minister Steven Harper played the controversy well but the question remains whether he will approve any more foreign acquisitions. The question now remains whether the new Nexen will serve as the principal marketer of Alberta’s oil. Harper seems to have relied on the principle of “net benefit” in making the decisions but the Globe and Mail’s Daniel Schwanen says that net benefit isn’t everything. Heather Mallick of the Toronto Star says that Harper has become “China’s plaything.”
As far as investors are concern, the news is mixed and uncertain. The Edmonton Journal reports a nervous oilpatch is awaiting more details on Ottawa’s murky takeover rules. Andrew Coyne of the Calgary Herald says shareholders have been obscured by the deal. The UK could have raised objections since Nexen owns a 43 percent stake in the North Sea Buzzard oil field but Energy Minister Mike Hawkins says he won’t object. Energy executives in India, however, see hypocrisy in new rules put forth concerning foreign takeover. In any case, international markets seem pleased with the deal as the Canadian dollar rose to a seven-week high.
Everybody else is making long-range energy forecasts so why shouldn’t Exxon join the parade? The company put forth its own projections, which pretty much echo the IEA and EIA projections that the US will become a net exporter by 2025, achieving virtual energy independence. And everyone was laughing when Mitt Romney proposed this only a month ago? Exxon sees a 35 percent growth in energy demand by 2040 but says it can meet the task. It also sees gas and oil predominating over coal and nuclear. Is this company in the oil business or something? On the other hand, Kenneth Cohen, the company’s vice president of public and government affairs, tried to squelch rumors yesterday by putting out the word that Exxon is NOT in favor of a carbon tax. Earlier reports had said it was. And Philip Bump, writing on Grist, says Exxon’s energy outlook is simple: “More, more, more.”
Finally, Chesapeake investors were encouraged as the company announced the sale of some of its midstream assets in the Marcellus, Utica, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations to Access Midstream Partners. The cash-strapped company got $2.16 billion in the deal. All eyes will be on SolarCity as it intends to go public this week. Martin LaMonica, writing in MIT Technology Journal, says it will be test investors’ appetites for clean technologies. Spectra has announced it’s a player by paying $1.25 billion for the 1700-mile Express-Platte oil pipeline between Illinois and Canada. Kinder Morgan, Borealis Infrastructure and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan were the previous owners. (Didn’t know teachers owned oil pipelines, did you?) And Bonterra has put in a C$441 bid for Spartan Oil, upsetting Pinecrest Energy‘s plans for a quick takeover. All this is taking place north of the border, which prompts Derek Scissors of the Heritage Foundation to complain that China is making headway on Canada’s vast energy resources while the US dallies.