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Saudi energy minister: Diplomatic row will not impact oil supplies to Canada

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Saudi energy minister: Diplomatic row will not impact oil supplies to Canada

Saudi Arabia's energy minister reassured Canada on oil supplies from state-run oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, amid the ongoing diplomatic row between the two countries.

The current diplomatic crisis between the two nations will not impact Aramco's relations with its customers in Canada, Khalid al-Falih said Aug. 9, as quoted by Saudi Press Agency. The energy minister also stressed that Saudi's petroleum policy is not influenced by political circumstances.

The assurance came a day after Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom was weighing additional measures against Canada for interfering in Saudi domestic affairs.

Saudi Arabia has suspended new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in response to Ottawa calling for the immediate release of arrested civil society and women's rights activists. There were also reports that the kingdom had asked overseas asset managers to sell their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings.

However, the Saudi government's Center for International Communication responded Aug. 8 that "neither the government nor the Central Bank or the state pension fund has issued any instructions regarding the sale of Canadian assets."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struck a conciliatory tone while saying that the country would keep pressing the kingdom on human rights. "Diplomatic talks continue ... we don't want to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia," Reuters quoted him as saying. "It is a country that has great significance in the world, that is making progress in the area of human rights."

Eastern Canadian refineries import about 75,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of Saudi Arabian crude, which accounts for less than 10% of Canada's total imports, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing an estimate from RS Energy Group chief economist Judith Dwarkin.

Canada imported $2.6 billion worth of goods from Saudi Arabia in 2017, of which $2.5 billion was in mineral production, and exported $1.45 billion to the kingdom in 2017, the report noted, citing Canadian Trade Commissioner Service data.