Even before the first LNG project in British Columbia moves to the FID stage, First Nations across the province are benefiting from a unique partnership with Chevron Canada and Woodside Energy, partners in the proposed Kitimat Lng export terminal and Pacific Trail Pipeline (PTP).
The First Nations Limited Partnership (FNLP), a benefit agreement between the project partners and 16 First Nations whose territories are located along the route of the 480 km PTP, has already led to First Nations access to jobs in a variety of areas, from environmental monitoring and right-of-way clearing to security and ambulance services.
FNLP chairman Mark Podlasly will address many of these benefits in a panel discussion on Day 2 of the Canada Gas & LNG Conference May 14-16 in Vancouver.
“The FNLP agreement was ground-breaking in the scale, and manner, of financial benefits payments to its member First Nation communities,” Podlasly told NGW recently. “A significant financial payment was made to each First Nation upon signing the commercial benefits agreement at the beginning of 2013 – a payment which had no strings attached, with each First Nation having absolute discretion over the use of the monies.”
Nor, he said, were the payments tied in any way to the construction or operation of Kitimat LNG or the PTP.
Beyond the financial benefits of the benefits agreement, FNLP communities have been provided with substantial training programs, and its members have also had access to job opportunities. An estimated $245mn in PTP construction contracts have been awarded to FNLP member businesses – 65% of the total – while 380,000 PTP construction hours (64% of the total) have been completed by First Nations workers. Another $81mn in construction expenditures have been sourced from First Nations contractors, according to figures provided on the PTP website.
More than 1,600 First Nations members have been trained through the PTP Aboriginal Skills to Employment Partnership, and more than 900 of those trainees have found jobs. And this, Podlasly said, is even before Kitimat LNG moves to FID.
“If Kitimat LNG is built, the aggregate benefits (financial and socio-economic) to the community members of FNLP’s 16 First Nations are estimated to exceed $1bn,” he said. “It is no exaggeration to say that the successful passage of the Kitimat LNG Project would be community-transformative for literally thousands of our community members in northern BC.”
Podlasly said the FNLP and resulting commercial agreement between the Kitimat LNG partners and the 16 First Nations – a similar agreement was also struck involving the project partners and the Haisla First Nation, on whose territory the export terminal will be built – were born from the fact that many First Nations in BC support natural resource development and realize that properly done, with early engagement from affected First Nations, resource development holds the key to reconciliation in their communities.
“But there is also a critical difference of community opinion with respect to the type of pipeline – natural gas or oil/bitumen – that we’re talking about,” he continued. “PTP is a natural gas-only project and the signatory FNLP Nations successfully negotiated with the proponents to have the ‘natural gas only’ designation become an essential aspect of the commercial agreement.”
Although the FNLP structure applies only to the Kitimat LNG/PTP project, Podlasly said other First Nations facing similar resource development opportunities are being encouraged to consider negotiating with project developers as a team, with a single voice.
“Doing this well does represent challenges of course; the participants must be prepared to negotiate with a single voice, through a highly-skilled negotiator with a very clear mandate,” he said. “The earlier in the life of a proposed project the pre-negotiation phase begins the better, before individual expectations become fixed.”
FNLP chairman Mark Podlasly will be a Speaker at Canada Gas & LNG Exhibition and Conference - May 14-16, Vancouver, Canada.
This post first appeared on Natural Gas Asia - Asia's Unconventional Gas And O, please read the originial post: here