• 15 hours Oil Prices Rise After API Reports Major Crude Draw
  • 16 hours Citgo President And 5 VPs Arrested On Embezzlement Charges
  • 16 hours Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension
  • 16 hours Statoil Looks To Lighter Oil To Boost Profitability
  • 18 hours Oil Billionaire Becomes Wind Energy’s Top Influencer
  • 19 hours Transneft Warns Urals Oil Quality Reaching Critical Levels
  • 20 hours Whitefish Energy Suspends Work In Puerto Rico
  • 21 hours U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme
  • 1 day Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 2 days Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 2 days South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 2 days Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 2 days Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 2 days ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 4 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 5 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 5 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 5 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 5 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 5 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 5 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 5 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 5 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 6 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 6 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 6 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 6 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 6 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 6 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 6 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 7 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 7 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 7 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 7 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 7 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 7 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 8 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 8 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 8 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
Alt Text

Can We Expect An Oil Price Correction Soon?

While oil sentiment is bullish…

Alt Text

Is Peak Permian Only 3 Years Away?

Texas’ Permian Basin is the…

John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

More Info

Canada's Enbridge and First Nations Tribes - Allies or Implacable Foes?

Canada's Enbridge and First Nations Tribes - Allies or Implacable Foes?

Canada’s Enbridge was sandbagged last year by the Obama administration’s postponing a decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, designed to ship Alberta’s oil sands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, a project that was seemingly in the bag until a groundswell of environmental opposition blocked it.

Now shifting its focus, Enbridge is proposing its “Northern Gateway” pipeline, a pair of planned 731 mile-long 36-inch diameter pipelines costing $5.5 billion that would carry an estimated 525,000 barrels per day of so-called tar sands oil from Alberta fields in Bruderheim to the Canada’s western port city of Kitimat on British Colombia’s Pacific coast.

But the project has its detractors, most notably among a number of Canada’s “First Nation” Indian tribes.

First Nations is a term that collectively refers to Canada’s various aboriginal peoples except for the Inuit Eskimos and Metis. Canada currently contains over 630 recognized First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, with nearly half of its 700,000 people in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

So, the question for Enbridge is – how to bring the First Nations onboard?

Buy ‘em off.

On 6 June Enbridge announced that it is offering aboriginal groups within 50 miles of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline a 10 percent equity stake in the project, to be equally divided between British Colombia and Alberta groups via an offer which expired at midnight, 31 May. There are 45 First Nations along the direct pipeline route.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Communications  manager  Paul Stanway told the press, “We made it available to about 45 of the aboriginal communities along the right-of-way. “Almost 60 per cent of those eligible communities along the right-of-way have now signed agreements to be partners with us in ownership of Northern Gateway” before adding that the commitment by the First Nations is “a very good start” at obtaining broad social approval for the project. Dangling the prospect of big riches, Stanway stated that Enbridge estimates that over the next three decades, the First Nations’ 10 percent stake would generate revenues of nearly $280 million.

Stanway however coyly declined to identify exactly which aboriginal communities have accepted the offer, nor did he identify them by region.

At least some First Nation tribes suspect Enbridge of speaking with forked tongue, however. Coastal First Nations is an alliance of 10 First Nations who oppose the project. The group’s executive director Art Sterritt issued a statement accusing Enbridge of manipulating the facts before noting, "We have checked with all the First Nations along the pipeline route west of Prince George and only two First Nations have signed equity agreements."

Sterritt went on to observe that Enbridge expanded its compensation corridor to 50 miles precisely to boost the number of supporters and that many of the First Nations who have signed on the Northern Gateway agreement are accordingly conveniently located far outside of any area that could consequently be impacted by a potential spill. The Coastal First Nations includes the Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga'at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate and Council of the Haida Nation.

Interestingly, Sterritt noted that Enbridge also included the Metis in its tally of pipeline supports even though that aboriginal group doesn't have rights or title to land inside the corridor.

Adding to Enbridge’s uphill PR struggle for hearts and minds, on 7 June up to 3,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into a tributary of the swollen Red Deer River near Sundre in west-central Alberta when a pipeline was breached, into an area of ranch land and relatively pristine wilderness that’s popular with hunters and anglers. While the good news for Enbridge is that the pipeline was operated by Plains Midstream Canada, it and other pipeline companies will not be able to avoid being “tarred’ with the same brush of public concern.

The public hearing process on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is roughly halfway complete and in September formal hearings will begin, with expert witnesses testifying under oath to the review panel.

While at this point few things are certain, it is obvious that Enbridge is going to have to spend a lot more wampum to make its case, and that it should expand its PR department to include some personnel more conversant with the truth, inconvenient as it might sometimes be, lest they set the impacted First Nations even more strongly on the warpath.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Robert Waldon on June 14 2012 said:
    John, this article needs some correction.

    Canada's Aboriginal peoples are rights holders not just "stakeholders". There is a well-developed case law behind the obligation of the government ("the Crown") to consult and accommodate those rights before approving project like Northern Gateway. Companies like Enbridge also have an obligation to consult and where necessary accommodate those rights, especially where First Nations have not entered into any treaties with the Crown to surrender their Aboriginal Title, which is the case in B.C.

    It is a somewhat complex situation, and probably very different from the US, but characterizing legal obligations, and corporate social responsibility as "buy 'em off", does a disservice to all the parties involved.

    Also, please note, Keystone XL was a TransCanada PipeLines' project, not Enbridge.

  • Margaret Ouwehand on June 14 2012 said:
    Enbridge has done one good thing by bringing First Nations people together with those of us who are relative newcomers. We are joined together in opposition to the pipeline proposal.

    It is all about greed and big company profits, and NOTHING to do with sustainability and protection of the environment. Governments have been blinded by the prospect of short-term jobs and money from taxes, but they fail to realize how devastating a single spill could be.

    While ordinary Canadians will be left with futile efforts to clean up Tarsands bitumen and with the costs involved, those politicians who have supported Enbridge will be provided with cushy jobs, as we have so often seen.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News