In what has been hailed as a rare deal between First Nations and industry, oilsands giant Suncor Energy Inc. will sell a stake in a bitumen storage terminal in northern Alberta to Fort McKay First Nation for $350 million.
The indigenous group will acquire 34.3 per cent of Suncor’s East Tank Farm project, which will store, cool and blend bitumen from the Fort Hills mine north of Fort McMurray before transporting it in pipelines.
Mark Little, an executive vice-president at Suncor, said the Calgary-based producer will secure far more than money when the deal is finalized, expected in the second quarter of 2017. “If our entire business and focus was just about making money, we wouldn’t do this; we’d just say, fine, we’ll keep it to ourselves,” Little said in an interview.
“We view it as hugely advantageous to be aligned with a First Nation moving oilsands forward in this country, and you know there’s lots of controversy about that.
“But it’s also, shouldn’t we be concerned about the First Nations in this country, their living conditions, and are we providing the right support?”
Chief Jim Boucher of the Fort McKay First Nation said the acquisition is a “prudent investment decision” at a time that his members are struggling with high unemployment.
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