by Tina Olivero

Suncor Energy Forms Partnership with Eight Indigenous Communities

Suncor announced the signing of agreements with eight Indigenous communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo 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.

“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,” said Mark Little, President and Chief Executive Officer, Suncor Energy.

The purchase of Northern Courier Pipeline will be completed by Astisiy Limited Partnership, which is comprised of Suncor and a partnership of the following communities:

Athabasca Chipewyan First NationChipewyan Prairie First Nation
Conklin Métis Local 193Fort Chipewyan Métis Local #125
Fort McKay Métis NationMcMurray Métis
Fort McMurray #468 First NationWillow Lake Métis Nation
8 Indigenous Communities

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 Northern Courier Pipeline opportunity demonstrates progressive relationship building and economic reconciliation between industry and Indigenous Communities. ACFN is committed to delivering long-term value to membership and this is yet another example of this framework. The pipeline itself is firmly situated in ACFN traditional territory so it is fitting that ACFN, along with seven other Indigenous owners, share in the community benefits made possible through this partnership with Suncor,” said Allan Adam, Chief, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation. 

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 Corporation. TD Securities Inc. acted as Financial Advisor and Debt Arranger for the Indigenous communities in this transaction.

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.

“This investment in the Northern Courier Pipeline with the other Indigenous communities in the region will sustain our people’s future for years to come,” said Shaun Janvier, Director, Chipewyan Prairie Industry Relations LP.

About the Northern Courier Pipeline assets

The Northern Courier Pipeline and associated storage facilities are located in the RMWB, connecting the Fort Hills asset to the East Tank Farm Development, another Indigenous equity partnership. The asset consists of two 90-kilometre pipelines that transport heated or diluted bitumen and condensate, diesel or crude from Fort Hills to the ETF; tank terminals also support the operation of the asset, including two 300,000 barrel bitumen storage tanks, one 150,000 barrel diluent storage tank and one 50,000 barrel diesel tank at the north end of the assets.

About Astisiy and Tahsipiy

The Astisiy Limited Partnership consists of Suncor and the Tahsipiy (Three Rivers) Limited Partnership. Tahsipiy LP consists of the eight Indigenous communities. Astisiy is a Cree word that means “thread made from sinew”, which is used in Indigenous beading and for many other uses. It is strong and binding, it connects individual beads into beautiful art, yet is a tough fibrous tissue uniting muscle to bone and has been used to make traditional implements like bows.

Source and Photos: Suncor Energy

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