Touted as the largest indigenous energy partnership in North America to date, 23 communities are buying a minority stake in seven Northern Alberta Enbridge pipelines for $1.12 billion.
At a press conference Wednesday, the newly formed Athabasca Indigenous Investments, made up of 23 First Nation and Métis communities, announced the deal to purchase a non-operating 11.57 percent stake in the Enbridge-managed pipelines in the Athabasca region. .
The pipelines covered by the deal include the Athabasca, Wood Buffalo/Athabasca Twin and associated tanks, the Norlite Diluent, the Waupisoo, the Wood Buffalo, the Woodland and the Woodland extension. Colin Gruending, executive vice president and president of fluid pipelines at Enbridge, said they together carry about 45 percent of the oil sands product.
Frog Lake First Nation Chief Greg Desjarlais said the investment will empower indigenous communities impacted by development in the region and enable them to improve their quality of life.
“This investment — it creates opportunities. This way we can send our children to school. It allows us to send more people to treatment. It will enable us to deal with the mental (health) crisis that we have in our communities, the fear of the young,” he said, adding that the deal should be seen as a benchmark.
“I hope industry and other levels of government pay attention, because our people should not be allowed to live in poverty in the land of milk and honey.”
A deepening relationship
Al Monaco, president and CEO of Enbridge, said the company aims to partner with indigenous communities in future projects in renewable energy, renewable energy, carbon capture, hydrogen and natural gas.
“It really is the beginning of a partnership and a deepening of the relationship that I think will be absolutely essential to what we do in the future,” said Monaco, adding that the deal would not have been possible without the work. of the provincial government.
The Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) closed the $250 million deal with Athabasca Indigenous Investments, with the remainder of the investment raised through private investors. The Crown Corporation was established in 2019 by the UCP government to extend loan guarantees and provide advice to indigenous groups to get involved in natural resources and other projects.
The latest project brings AIOC’s total support to $410 million as of 2020.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney called the announcement one of the most exciting and profound of his political career.
“(It is) a historic, groundbreaking deal that points the way to the future of shared prosperity,” he said, adding that pipelines will not be built without the full participation of indigenous peoples, and the most effective way to ensure that participation is that they are equal partners with an ownership interest.
Partnership is ‘precedent-setting’: crown corp
Stan Delorme, president of the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement, said Enbridge has set the bar, and that the partnership is an opportunity “to draw attention to the other players in the industry who are currently terrifying us.” .”
Justin Bourque, president of Athabasca Indigenous Investments, said it represents an important opportunity for all 23 communities involved to act as environmental stewards.
“This partnership in general offers a very different shape that we’ve never had in terms of engagement, in terms of discussion, in terms of being able to take responsibility,” he said.
AIOC chief executive Chana Martineau called the deal precedent-setting.
“These communities otherwise might not have been able to access the kind of capital needed to facilitate equity ownership in projects of this size and scope,” she said.
Enbridge and Athabasca Indigenous Investments said the assets are backed by long-term sources and long-term contracts, which provide “highly predictable cash flows.”
The deal is expected to close next month.