REGINA, Saskatchewan, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Energy-hungry China is seen as courting Canadian energy companies for access to the country's vast deposits of crude oil, a provincial leader said.
Canadian oil sands deposits are estimated at more than 100 billion barrels, which puts it second only to Saudi Arabia. Saskatchewan alone holds as much as 1.2 billion barrels of crude oil.
China has been moving closer to Canada in recent years, with China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. last year taking a 9 percent stake in Canadian oil sands project Syncrude. The Wall Street Journal notes that state investment agency China Investment Corp. took a 45 percent stake in a separate oil sands project owned by Penn West Energy Trust as well.
China in 2009 became second-largest importer of crude oil in 2009 and the second largest economy in 2010. Bill Boyd, the resources minister in Saskatchewan, was quoted by the Journal as saying Chinese interest in Canadian oil sands was a good thing.
"We believe this has a real potential," he said.
The United States is currently the major importer of Canadian crude oil.