Case Study: The Athabasca Equity Partnership

An innovative energy partnership is set to deliver economic benefits to Indigenous communities in northern Alberta for generations
Sep 27, 2023 2:45 PM ET
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Chief Desjarlais participating in the Athabasca equity partnership signing ceremony.

Originally published in Enbridge's 2022 Sustainability Report

In September 2022, Enbridge and the newly created Athabasca Indigenous Investments (Aii) announced a landmark equity partnership. Aii represents a diverse group of 23 Treaty 6 and Treaty 8 First Nations and Métis communities in northern Alberta. Under the agreement, Aii assumes an 11.57% ownership stake in seven pipelines in the region, which collectively transport about 45% of Alberta oil sands production.

For the Indigenous groups that came together to form Aii, investing in the region’s energy infrastructure is a way of investing in the future prosperity of their Nations and communities. “Our partner logo theme—Seven Pipelines, Seven Generations—speaks to the long-term value potential of these assets, which will help enhance quality of life in our communities for many years to come,” said Justin Bourque, Aii President. Because the assets are underpinned by long-life resources and long-term contracts, they’re expected to provide highly predictable cash flows for many years to come as they continue to drive North American and global energy security.

For Enbridge, the partnership is an opportunity for meaningful and sustained collaboration with Indigenous communities—both on environmental stewardship and on the ownership and operation of critical energy infrastructure. “This partnership is an important expression of the commitments we’ve made through our Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan,” says Colin Gruending, Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines. “We’re working to extend our longstanding track record of engagement with Indigenous communities, including through financial partnerships like this one—and also through other modes of economic inclusion, such as procurement, training and recruitment.”

In making the largest ever Indigenous energy investment in North America, Aii seeks to achieve a wide array of benefits for the First Nations and Métis communities involved. With its 5% ownership in the Aii partnership, for example, Fort McKay Métis Nation will receive roughly $500,000 in annual revenue, which president Ron Quintal plans to direct to education, infrastructure and housing.

Meanwhile, Enbridge will continue to recycle capital from existing businesses to fund new growth opportunities, including a growing slate of investments in renewable and low-carbon energies—projects that will yield even more opportunities for Indigenous partnership in the decades to come.

It’s going to allow us to improve our quality of life. It’s very significant that this investment has been made collectively by 23 Indigenous communities that are impacted by the development in the Athabasca region. Under the creators, we’re all one. We’re all his children, and this is what the elders prophesized: that we must work together, and we must care for one another.

Chief Greg Desjarlais of Frog Lake First Nation

Learn more: Landmark collaboration in northern Alberta Athabasca equity partnership fact sheet

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