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Message: Outside interests in Oil Sands

Outside interests in Oil Sands

posted on Apr 04, 2008 09:36AM
Welcome to the Alberta Construction Magazine online.

Here’s a news item that may have slipped under the radar for many of you. India’s top oil producer says it’s been in talks with several companies about establishing a toehold in Canada’s oilsands.

R.S. Sharma, chairman and managing director of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp., told the international news service Reuters: “We are seriously interested in opportunities here. I know the
size of investments is going to be large.”

Because this is Alberta Construction Magazine’s annual oilsands issue, I mention this item to remind us all of the great resource underneath this province. I realize there are those who want all
oilsands work to stop. But I find myself wondering if they are aware of what’s happening globally.

Let’s look at India. That country’s economy has been expanding around 10 per cent annually. Its middle class is growing. And its top vehicle maker, Tata Motors, announced in January that it would build a car that will sell for $2,500. (Yes, the comma is in the right place.) Imagine what effect that might have on world demand for oil if hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of new Indian consumers suddenly can buy a car. No wonder Oil and Natural Gas is looking at Canada.

It’s anyone guess whether all the speculation about a possible softening of the global economy translating to weakened demand for oil will become a reality. To be sure, what’s happening in the
oilsands has a profound impact on us in Alberta. It’s a message Alberta Finance Minister Lyle Oberg emphasized during a speech to the Edmonton Construction Association in January.

Our construction industry knows only too well what the intense growth in the oilsands has meant in terms of labour and affordable housing for workers. With announcements like Suncor
Energy Inc.’s $20.6-billion capital spending program—and Oil and Natural Gas’ interest in the oilsands—it’s clear that Alberta’s oilsands will be important for years to come.

Many, many years.

Chaz Osburn
[email protected]
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