Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

CALGARY — 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.

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.

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.

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