08/23/2012 01:55 EDT | Updated 10/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Harper says review of Nexen takeover bid requires careful scrutiny

CAMBRIDGE BAY, Nunavut - The prime minister says the proposed takeover of a Canadian oil-and-gas producer by a Chinese state-owned firm must be in the best long-term interest of Canada.

Stephen Harper called the US $15.1-billion takeover bid for Calgary-based Nexen a deal with significant implications for the Canadian economy in the short- and long-term.

"Our government will take the time we have to properly scrutinize this transaction and to assess that, if it is to go ahead, that it will only go ahead if it is in the best long-term interest of the Canadian economy," he said.

"Not just net benefit of Canada but in the best long-term interest of the Canadian economy ...

"And that will be measured across a range of considerations. ... Given that we are committed by legislation to review this and to review on its merits, I'm not going to comment on the merits of the transaction today one way or the other."

Harper made the comments while in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, as part of his northern tour, which has focused on promoting natural resources development in Canada.

The China National Offshore Oil Company — also known as CNOOC Ltd. — proposed takeover of Nexen (TSX:NXY) was a friendly bid.