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(Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Oil patch not for sale, but it might be for lease

There’s a simple solution to Canada’s emerging patriotic reticence toward foreign takeovers of the country’s resource assets: the joint venture. And the beauty is, the Canadian government doesn’t even have to impose this solution – with some subtle nudging, the market may just adopt it on its own.

The questions of ownership structures and foreign control are taking on new urgency in the wake of the Canadian government’s de facto rejection of the proposed takeover of Progress Energy Corp. by Malaysia’s state-owned energy company, Petronas. The government has been increasingly signalling a reluctance to allow Canadian assets – especially in the resource sector – to be taken over by foreign-government-controlled entities.