A new indigenous non-profit organization is looking for an ownership interest in the Transberg pipeline and says its aim is to ensure that communities along the pipeline’s route receive its benefits directly.
Nesika Services publicly launched Monday, calling itself a grassroots, community-led nonprofit.
Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta (and the chairman and founding director of Nesika) said 14 indigenous communities along the pipeline’s route in Alberta and BC have already signed.
He said Nesika is reaching out to all 129 communities identified by the federal government as being affected by Trans Mountain to ensure they have a chance to join.
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“Ultimately what we’re trying to do now is organize the communities,” Alexis said in an interview. “Once Canada has decided they are willing to sell this pipeline, then we will negotiate a purchase at that time.”
The Trans Mountain pipeline carries 300,000 barrels of oil per day, and is Canada’s only pipeline system to transport oil from Alberta to the West Coast.
It was bought by the federal government in 2018 for $ 4.5 billion, after former owner Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. threatened to scrap the pipeline’s planned expansion project in light of opposition from the environment.
Under the ownership of Trans Mountain Corp., a federal Crown corporation, the Trans Mountain expansion project is currently underway, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that he is open to ownership of the pipeline by indigenous groups.
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Several indigenous-led initiatives have already emerged. Project Reconciliation seeks a 100 percent ownership interest in the pipeline with no equity requirement or liability risk for indigenous partners. Its goal is to distribute cash flow from the pipeline between the participating owners of the indigenous community, and an Indigenous Sovereign Wealth Fund that will invest in energy transition projects.
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Chinook Pathways – which is also looking for an equity stake – is an indigenous managed partnership formed by Western Indigenous Pipeline Group and its operating partner, Pembina Pipeline Corp.
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What distinguishes Nesika Services from these other proposals, Alexis said, is that it is a true non-profit that is not backed by the industry or affiliated with financial institutions or any other operating parties.
“These groups, these other groups, they are profit-oriented, which is a big conflict for indigenous communities,” Alexis said.
“For me as a community leader, when I look at Nesika, it offers the best opportunity for us to build our wealth and grow our communities. Resources are needed within the communities and Nesika offers us that kind of opportunity. ”
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Alexis said Nesika is exploring both equity and revenue-sharing opportunities in Trans Mountain with no advance capital requirements from participating groups.
He declined to see how a potential purchase would be financed, saying it would be determined once the Government of Canada clarifies the potential terms of a sale.
The federal government has not yet accepted a bid for the pipeline, though Alexis said he expects negotiations with interested parties to begin “within a month or two.”
Nesika’s other founding directors include chief executive Alice McKay of Matsqui First Nation, Coun. David Walkem of Cook’s Ferry Indian Band, and Mark Peters of Peters First Nation.
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