Here’s the latest example of the ever-stronger relationship between Canada’s natural gas and oil industry and Indigenous communities: On Sept. 28, 2022, Enbridge Inc. and 23 First Nation and Métis communities announced an agreement that will see these communities acquire an 11.57-per-cent non-operating interest in seven of Enbridge’s pipelines in northeastern Alberta. The equity purchase is worth about $1.12 billion, the largest energy-Indigenous economic partnership in North America.
Pipelines included in the transaction are the Athabasca, Wood Buffalo/Athabasca Twin and associated tanks; Norlite Diluent; Waupisoo; Wood Buffalo; Woodland; and the Woodland extension. These assets are underpinned by long-life resources and long-term contracts, which provide highly predictable revenues.
The Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation provided a $250-million loan guarantee to secure the investment, which will be managed by a newly formed entity, Athabasca Indigenous Investments. The organization’s president, Justin Bourque, commented in a news release, “We are proud to become equity owners in these high-quality assets, which will help enhance quality of life in our communities for many years.”
In the same news release, Chief Greg Desjarlais of Frog Lake First Nation said, “In addition to an opportunity to generate wealth for our people, this investment supports economic sovereignty for our communities. We look forward to working with a leading energy company like Enbridge, which shares Indigenous values of water, land and environmental stewardship.”
With growing worldwide need for responsibly developed oil and natural gas, relationships and partnerships with Indigenous-owned business and communities across Canada play an integral role in the success of Canada’s upstream energy industry. A strong natural gas and oil industry offers significant opportunities for employment, business development, training, and other means of engagement with Indigenous communities, providing pathways to greater prosperity and self-determination.