• The Buffalo Tribune Team

Suncor forms new partnership with eight Indigenous communities

Suncor today announced the signing of agreements with eight Indigenous communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) to acquire all of TC Energy's 15 per cent equity interest in the Northern Courier Pipeline Limited Partnership. This historic partnership includes Suncor, three First Nations and five Métis communities who will own a 15 per cent stake in this pipeline asset with a value of approximately $1.3 billion, which will provide long-term, stable revenues that will benefit the communities for decades to come.


The purchase of Northern Courier Pipeline will be completed by Astisiy Limited Partnership (Astisiy), which is comprised of Suncor and a partnership of the following eight communities: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Chipewyan Prairie First Nation,

Conklin Métis Local 193, Fort Chipewyan Métis Local #125, Fort McKay Métis Nation, McMurray Métis, Fort McMurray #468 First Nation and Willow Lake Métis Nation.

With this collaboration in mind, Suncor obtained the rights to purchase all of TC Energy's 15 per cent equity interest in 2019, as part of Northern Courier Pipeline's execution of long-term, non-recourse financing of $1 billion and TC Energy's sale of its remaining 85 per cent interest to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. The pipeline, which connects the Fort Hills asset to Suncor's East Tank Farm asset, will be operated by Suncor upon completion of the purchase by Astisiy. The transaction is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions

and the required regulatory approvals.


The Astisiy partners will benefit from revenues generated through competitive tolls from long-term transportation and terminalling services agreements supporting the pipeline, regardless of the price of crude. The partnership is expected to generate gross revenues of approximately $16 million annually for its partners and provide reliable income that the Indigenous communities can use at their discretion for decades to come.


The Indigenous communities’ participation in this transaction is funded by non-recourse financing that is supported by a loan guarantee of up to $40 million from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities. This investment and partnership are a result of years of collaboration and negotiations among all partners.


An example of economic reconciliation, this partnership is unprecedented in this industry, given the number of Indigenous communities involved in this type of project.


Suncor officials, provincial ministers and indigenous leaders alike chimed in to voice their enthusiasm for the new partnership.


“We’re excited to have eight new business partners in the RMWB and continue on our Journey of Reconciliation with yet another opportunity for increased participation by Indigenous communities in our business. Suncor’s Journey includes our commitment to learn about Indigenous culture and history with open hearts and minds, to stretch our perspectives, and build genuine relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on mutual trust and respect. We’ve heard from communities that opportunities like this are key to helping their communities thrive and we are proud to play a part in supporting their members," noted Mark Little, President and CEO of Suncor.


“Today is a momentous and historic day that the Government of Alberta is proud to participate in. It is gratifying to see several Indigenous communities secure for themselves investment in natural resource projects and bolster economic prosperity in their communities," said Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations,


“This partnership demonstrates our ability to be a strong player at the table and will allow us to fund programs that otherwise wouldn’t be able to happen. It’s our hope that industry will follow suit and allow further opportunities for Aboriginal communities in the North to participate in ventures such as this," said Samantha Whalen, Councillor for Fort McMurray 468 First Nation.


Ron Quintal, President of Fort McKay Métis Nation, also stated that "...there has been a lot of talk about reconciliation. But Suncor is walking the talk. This is an investment in a better Canada. And the benefits of this partnership model are sustainable long-term revenue for our community’s housing, social services and education. This is further recognition of the Fort McKay Métis Nation’s s.35 rights within our traditional territory.”

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