Oil Sands Wikileaks Leak: Energy Minister Shocked by Norwegian Debate

Published on: 2010/12/22 - in Featured News

The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has announced it is in possession of all 251,287 Wikileaks documents – far more than the almost 1,900 cables that WikiLeaks itself has published.

And one of the earliest releases by Aftenposten focuses on former Canadian Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, who – according to the article – was deeply shaken by the public debate in Norway over investment in the Alberta oil sands project.

While Prentice was attending an Osolo conference in May of 2009, he was faced with public concerns about whether Norway should invest public money – through Statoil – in ‘dirty oil’.  In response, he told the Norwegian news agency (NTB) that he considered the oil sands to be a strategic resource that Canada will utilize in a responsible manner.

However, in a subsequent meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, Prentice made it clear that the recent visit to Norway had made a strong impression on him.

According to the cable, Prentice’s concern was that Statoil’s project may affect Canada’s international reputation and his government may have underestimated the consequences of that investment. He likewise expressed some  shock over the public sentiment in Norway – emphasizing that it made him aware of the negative impact it had on Canada’s historical position as a “green” nation.

In addition to public debate in Norway,  the oil sands investment was argued by all the country’s political parties as well as being attacked by their own Environment Minister, Erik Solheim.

Last month Statoil, one of the largest offshore oil and gas companies in the world, sold 40% of its stake in the oil sands project to Thailand’s biggest energy explorer, PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, for $2.28 billion.

According to a Bloomberg news article about that sale, China has also made significant purchases of Canadian energy assets this year. Those investments include PetroChina Co. acquiring a $1.9 billion (CND) stake in two Canadian ventures, and China Petrochemical Corp. paying $4.65 billion for a stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd.

The Wikileaks-based article about Jim Prentice & the Norwegian debate over oil sands project investment can be read online at Aftenposten. (Norwegian)


Photo: Mildred Lake Oil Sands Facility via Wikipedia