• 1 hour Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 3 hours New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 4 hours Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 6 hours Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 12 hours Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 17 hours British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 21 hours Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 23 hours Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 24 hours Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 1 day OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 1 day London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 1 day Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 1 day Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 1 day India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 2 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 2 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 2 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 2 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 2 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 3 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 3 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 3 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 3 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 3 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 3 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 3 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 3 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 3 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 4 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 4 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 4 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 4 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 4 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 4 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 7 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 7 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 7 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 7 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 7 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 7 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
Alt Text

With A World Awash In Oil, Kazakhstan Faces Fuel Crisis

Kazakhstan is struggling with a…

Alt Text

Oil Shows Weakness, But Don’t Expect A Plunge

Oil prices remained firm this…

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 Indigenous First Nations Threaten $600 Billion in Energy Deals

Canada’s Indigenous First Nations Threaten $600 Billion in Energy Deals

Canada’s aboriginal “First Nations” have unexpectedly emerged as a potential force threatening to derail the plans of Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plans to turn western Canada into an energy powerhouse underwriting eastern Asia’s various demands for energy.

Who are these obstructionists?

The First Nations are the various Canadian aboriginal peoples who are neither Inuit nor Métis, with Ottawa currently recognizing over 630 First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.

For decades Canada has belatedly dealt with issues as Pacific coastal natives sought treaties to spell out their relationship with the rest of the country. Accordingly, successive Canadian courts have ruled that in the absence of settled claims, the First Nations actually have rights and title to all aspects of traditional lands.

Related article: Is a final Decision on Keystone XL Close at Hand?

Not surprisingly the First Nations are somewhat skeptical of Ottawa’s blandishments about the benefits accruing from developing the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.

Imperiled projects? They include TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East’s proposed 3,000-mile pipeline in across First Nation lands, which would traverse the traditional territory of 180 different aboriginal communities, each of whom must be consulted and have their concerns accommodated as part of the company’s effort at winning project approval.

The First Nations have major potential abilities to disrupt such initiatives. According to a new report by the Fraser Institute, there are more than 600 major resource projects worth a total of $650 billion planned for western Canada imperiled by Ottawa’s relations with the First Nations.

The report notes, “There is not a single oil or gas project under proposal in Western Canada that does not affect at least one First Nations community, and the willingness of these communities to participate in energy development can be the factor that determines the success of a project.”

The pressures are largely economic - according to the Fraser Institute’s Ravina Bains, “If you look at the actual geographic location of where these communities are located, in many cases there aren’t any other economic development opportunities around them.”

Bains added that the “obstacles” included education, as currently fewer than half of First Nations’ youth successfully complete high school, compared to approximately 80 percent of non-native youth.

Related article: Labour Shortages Threaten Canada’s $50 Billion LNG Investment Plans

So, how to move forward?


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Vancouver lawyer and treaty negotiator Doug Eyford to try and resolves outstanding issues. Some of the First Nations leaders who have met with Eyford during his nine-month fact-finding assignment say that his findings could perhaps shift discussions to innovative and dramatic discussions between the First Nations and the Canadian government over several multibillion-dollar energy developments that have been proposed for British Columbia. First Nations Summit executive council Dave Porter noted of Eyford, “The first thing I’d say is that they chose a person I think has the skill set to do the job. I’ve been impressed with [Mr.] Eyford’s ability to listen. … He’s done a tremendous job of being open and ready to engage with whomever wanted to talk with him about this issue. If he’s listened, what he will say [to the Prime Minister] is there needs to be full engagement of the aboriginal leadership of British Columbia in a process that involves joint planning, joint decision making about energy maters in B.C., be it policy, legislation or projects. I mean we are talking beyond consultation [which] has evolved to a process where governments decide to do something and then tell us about it. What needs to be done is people have to start to talk together… and building relationships.”

If the talks fail, there’s always the media. Lining up superstar firepower, Canadian music legend Neil Young has scheduled four concerts in Canada for the northern Alberta aboriginal band Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation to benefit organizations battling oilsands development, scheduled for January in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary, with 100 per cent of ticket sales from the shows to fund the band's protest.

With $600 billion in potential energy deals at stake, Ottawa ought to sharpen their listening capabilities very carefully.

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

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Walter Fricke on December 14 2013 said:
    The energy industry acts as if it is a law unto itself. They seem to be an unstoppable behemoth in the eyes of the average citizen who does not work in the industry. The First Nations people of Canada have been swindled and forced onto reserves and into residential schools. They have had their culture torn from them by force and their belief system destroyed. All of this at the hands of immigrants. The energy industry has not shown a lot of caring or integrity in the development of publicly owned resources. They have, many times, shown a lack of competence in the extraction and transport of the energy resources. Can you blame the First Nations peoples for having the stance they do regarding their traditional lands, which encompass all of Canada and the US? I am the product of European immigrants and I fully stand behind the First Nations people in their rejection of pipelines and other toxic industries that threaten their health and way of life. The ball is in the hands of industry and if they don't play it right, they will never cross First Nations land.
  • Sandy MacDonald on December 18 2013 said:
    The Canadian Supreme Court has been consistently laying down the premise that Canada's Treaty relationships with the First Nations are constitutional relationships - and cannot be traduced by any particular legislation. Given that obvious fact, the current practice of the Canadian government is almost unbelievably obtuse. No amount of wishful thinking will cause their policy direction to be legal - or particularly moral. Since good business necessarily requires a government with respect for the Rule of Law, this seeming ignorance about the basics of statecraft and requirements of economic development means that the Federal Government is thoughtlessly endangering the country's development - and international standing. The economic consequences of this reckless ideological obtuseness will be dire.
  • Michelle Bedard on December 18 2013 said:
    Time to invest in alternate and sustainable energy! Anyone backing dirty oil-sands are gonna lose their shirts! They say oil is left-over from the dinosaurs, well oil technology should take the hint, and a breath of fresh air! Fossil fuels are out, clean energy is IN!
  • Lee Deranger on December 18 2013 said:
    In view of the cost of the 150+ losses the Government has suffered in court on this issue, it would certainly be a better deal for the taxpayer if the government engaged First Nations in an inclusive manner. Which means getting approval/agreement for projects on Crown Land.

    IMO, such agreements should have a time limit on them (a renewal clause) as well. This would allow a reassessment of development, say 10 years into a project, to ensure that the terms of the agreements are being met.
  • Maurice Hilarius on December 25 2013 said:
    Historically speaking, this is the time when free blankets are handed out.
    Perhaps some may want to be seen as constructionist, rather than obstructionists.
  • Dana Sharp-McLean on December 21 2014 said:
    Given Stephen Harper's penchant for having agreements negotiated with other Canadian provinces and First Nations and then adding his own changes to them and insisting that they be signed, I find it difficult to have any confidence in this process where he has a "superstar" negotiator, but no commitment to actually honour any agreement that is negotiated. There are leaders of other Canadian jurisdictions who will not deal with Harper. First Nations have far more to lose, I would think.

Leave a comment

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