THE FIRST First Nations group to back Enbridge’s plan to build a pipeline to carry oil from Alberta to a marine export terminal at Kitimat has spoken out.
Hereditary Gitxsan chief Elmer Derrick announced today, on behalf of Gitxsan chiefs, an agreement with Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines to become a partner in the ownership of the $5.5 billion project to export oil to the Pacific Rim.
“Over time we have established a relationship of trust with Enbridge, we have examined and assessed this project, and we believe it can be built and operated safely,” said Derrick. “We believe that the construction of this pipeline is of vital importance to the future of Canadian energy security and prosperity.”
Enbridge officials have been saying for some time it was working on equity ownership agreements with a number of First Nations groups.
The agreement is expected to deliver at least $7 million in net profit to the Gitxsan people, indicated a press release.
Enbridge will be providing financing at favourable rates, and the partnership will provide a solid foundation for an ongoing dialogue between the Gitxsan and Enbridge regarding regional renewable energy projects.
“Let me stress that all decisions we make in pursuing business on Gitxsan land remain faithful to the laws of our people, said Derrick. “Those who wish to do business in Gitxsan territory will be held to Gitxsan standards.”
Janet Holder, Executive Vice-President of Western Access for Enbridge, acknowledged the Gitxsan buy in.
“The most significant way in which Aboriginal people can benefit from the Northern Gateway project is by owning a stake in it and sharing in the net income it produces,” she said in a release.
Just this week a number of First Nations groups said they oppose Enbridge’s plan, citing the possibility of spills either from a ruptured pipeline or from a tanker.