Drilling for spinoffs

Royalties from oil and gas development can be an attractive source of revenue for First Nations people.

Royalties from oil and gas development can be an attractive source of revenue for First Nations people.

The Ermineskin Cree Nation has gone a few steps better.

It’s struck a deal with One Earth Oil and Gas to drill wells on reserve lands near Hobbema. Under the terms of the joint venture, Ermineskin Cree Nation will not only earn royalties but will share in the profits, be offered a financial stake in the company as it expands, and provide workers.

The creation of jobs, said Terry Ermineskin, acting president of Ermineskin Resource Development, is appealing because of the chronic high unemployment many First Nations communities are dealing with.

“Our main priority, I think, is the employment.”

Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Gerry Ermineskin agreed that the One Earth Oil and Gas partnership will bring benefits that weren’t previously available.

“Royalties are a standard; they’d come anyway,” he said. “It’s the other opportunities. We’ll have spinoffs from the drilling, we should get employment for our people.”

The CEO of One Earth Oil and Gas is Blaine Favel, a former grand chief of the Saskatchewan Federation of Indian Nations.

Favel was not available for comment, but told the media earlier that One Earth is in discussions with other First Nations in hopes of duplicating its relationship with Ermineskin Cree Nation.

Terry Ermineskin said Ermineskin Cree Nation’s lands are rich in hydrocarbon resources.

“We own 3-D seismic on the reserve, so we have a better snapshot of what’s underneath.”

No drilling has taken place there within the last decade, but he’s optimistic this will now change.

“We’re looking at a June target to begin.”

Gerry Ermineskin pointed out that many Ermineskin Cree Nation residents have experience in oil and gas work. He expects that some will continue to work with One Earth on projects elsewhere.

“It isn’t just on-reserve, it’ll be off too. The opportunities will be there for them with the other reserves.”

Already, said Terry Ermineskin, Ermineskin Cree Nation has signed agreements with other First Nations to work together and help each other in the development of their resources.

Favel previously helped found One Earth Farms Corp., a subsidiary of Sprott Resource Corp. that has contracted to farm about one million acres of First Nations land on the Prairies.

Gerry Ermineskin suggested that Ermineskin Cree Nation might be interested in participating in this initiative as well.

“That’s the next phase, I think, that we’ll be going into.”