January 15, 2019 8:18 pm
Updated: January 15, 2019 9:54 pm

Indigenous energy convention includes session on pipeline ownership options

WATCH: The Indigenous Resource Council of Canada is meeting Wednesday to discuss a funding model to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline. Michael King reports.


First Nations that produce oil and gas in Canada will hear presentations Wednesday at the Indigenous Energy Summit on how they might take ownership of major energy projects, including the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models that could be followed to allow ownership of major projects including the oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

READ MORE: Métis Nation of Alberta votes to support Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

When the federal government bought Trans Mountain and its controversial expansion project from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. last year for $4.5 billion, it signalled that it did not intend to hold it for the long term and that potential buyers included Indigenous groups.

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

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Saddleback says other potential “long-term viable opportunities” to be discussed at the summit on the Tsuut’ina Nation outside Calgary include Canadian National Railway Co.’s proposal to make pellets from oilsands bitumen — dubbed “CanaPux” — for easier transportation to customers in Asia.

The Indian Resource Council, which has about 130 members, is to hold its annual general meeting on Thursday.

IRC member Bernard Shepherd, a councillor for Saskatchewan’s Whitebear First Nation, says Trans Mountain could be a good long-term investment and financing would not necessarily be an insurmountable obstacle.

“Some of the other activities going on around the pipeline offer short-term jobs but I think actually investing in it, owning it, I think that’s where there’s a long-term revenue stream,” he said.

He said he doesn’t think Indigenous ownership would necessarily help ensure the pipeline expansion is built, given the opposition from some environmental and Indigenous groups.

Richard Masson, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said that a potential deal would fall in line with a similar purchase in Wood Buffalo.

In 2016, the Fort McKay First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation purchased a 49-per-cent stake in Suncor’s East Tank Farm Development.

READ MORE: Fort McKay First Nation to invest $350M in Suncor oilsands project

The two Indigenous communities raised $500 million and now receive revenue from producers who use the tank farm.

Masson said he expects that if a deal does get done and the Indian Resource Council starts looking for funding, the only option will be the federal government.

“It would be a risk. Like any lender, [the federal government] would be taking a risk,” Masson said. “But pipelines are a relatively stable business and we expect this pipeline to be full for many many years.”

–With files from Global News’ Michael King

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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