Canadians are generally opposed to the takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. by China’s CNOOC Ltd., an arm of state-controlled China National Offshore Oil Co., according to a new opinion poll that showed practically four-in-five respondents believe foreign governments should not be able to control resources on Canadian soil.

The Angus Reid Public Opinion poll surveyed a sample of 1,000 Canadians online. One-in-four respondents (26%) said they have followed news stories related to the proposed deal “very closely” or “moderately closely.” Albertans (41%) and British Columbians (35%) are paying more attention to the issue than those in Eastern Canada, the poll found.

Under the Investment Canada Act, federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis is expected to pass judgment on the proposed takeover of Nexen by CNOOC on the basis of whether it provides a net benefit to Canada. A majority of Canadians (58%) believe the federal government should block the takeover, while only 12% think it should be allowed, the poll found.

British Columbians oppose the Nexen takeover by a seven-to-one margin (69% to 7%). While one-in-five Albertans would prefer to allow the takeover (22%), three-in-five (63%) are against it.

Opposition to the proposed takeover is high across party lines, encompassing 65% of Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party in the 2011 federal election, 59% of Liberal Party voters and 57% of Conservative Party voters.

Nearly half of the respondents (48%) believe that, as a state-owned enterprise, CNOOC would have a competitive advantage over public companies. A majority of respondents (78%) think that foreign governments should not be able to control resources on Canadian soil.

Last month, a poll by Sun News-Abacus said opinion was running 69% against the deal with only 8% of respondents clearly in favor (see Daily GPI, Sept. 21).

CNOOC made its $15.1B offer for Nexen in July (see Daily GPI, July 24). The deal is the third test in four years of Canadian tolerance for foreign takeovers of national economic pillars. Nexen is Canada’s seventh-largest oil and natural gas producer.

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