VANCOUVER, April 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Following a year of feedback from B.C. First Nations communities, Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. and the Aquilini Group announced today that they continue to develop an alternative solution to Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
Eagle Spirit Energy's respectful, patient approach has resulted in a B.C. First Nation, the Nee Tahi Buhn near Burns Lake, revoking their support of the Northern Gateway Project. They are now endorsing Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal.
Calvin Helin, Chairman and President of Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd., said, "It has taken over a year of carefully listening to the feedback and concerns of First Nations communities to learn what it might take to earn a social license for such an important project. Timelines beyond our control required us to publicly announce our progress to date. Our meetings and engagement with First Nations will be ongoing. We have a lot of work ahead of us and will continue to be respectful of First Nations protocols and seek their consensus, taking their lead to bring forward amicable solutions for the benefit of all communities."
Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. has signed non-disclosure agreements with a substantial number of First Nations in northern British Columbia. These First Nation communities are prepared to work together with Eagle Spirit Holdings to explore alternative solutions to Enbridge's planned Northern Gateway proposal.
Mr. Helin further stated he is encouraged by the support Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings has received to date from a substantial number of First Nations and will continue reaching out to the remaining First Nations communities who have interests in this important project to explore their concerns, issues and desires with a focus to secure their support.
Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings initially focused its efforts on reaching out to First Nations in B.C., where opposition to the Enbridge proposal has been strong, and is now beginning to reach out to First Nations in Alberta.
Eagle Spirit understands First Nations intimate ties and links to the land that play an important and vital role in all resource development. First Nations thoughts, ideas and concerns will be integral to how Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal unfolds.
"First Nations have resided on the land for time immemorial," said Helin. "Their culture and heritage is infinitely tied to the land and the water. Ultimately, it will be their decision whether or not they support Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal."
What we heard from First Nations:
- First Nations have not been properly consulted and engaged on existing proposals and plans;
- First Nations do not believe Kitimat is an appropriate marine terminus because it exposes the coastline to too much risk;
- First Nations do not want bitumen (heavy crude oil in the Northern Gateway proposal) shipped through the province and coastal waters by pipeline or railway;
- First Nations insist that risks to the environment be limited;
- First Nations must be involved with initial and all ongoing plans to develop a world class environmental model for the project;
- First Nations concerns, issues and benefits must be addressed and considered in any proposal that moves forward;
- First Nations request a sound economic model that provides a sharing of risks and benefits; and
- First Nations must receive a comprehensive package of benefits that provide opportunities for training and employment, business and contracting opportunities and financial benefits.
Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal:
- The Eagle Spirit Energy proposal would involve a state-of-the-art pipeline connected to an upgrader in Northern Alberta or North Eastern B.C.;
- Represents a commitment to minimize any impacts on the coastal and inland waters, wildlife, and neighboring communities;
- Under Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal, the pipeline would transport synthetic crude rather than bitumen. Synthetic crude oil is an amber coloured product and one of the lighter forms of crude oil; and
- Collectively, this project would provide investment, training and employment, business and contracting opportunities, and resource revenue sharing opportunities in Northern British Columbia where communities are largely dependent upon the environmentally responsible development of natural resources.
"With the Eagle Spirit Energy proposal we have an opportunity to empower our people and shape the environmental model to protect our traditional territories," stated Chief Archie Patrick of the Stellat'en First Nation. "Everyone knows oil is coming through B.C. at some point and there is a cost to doing nothing —we do not want someone else to determine our future."
"With high-level industry experts, we have developed a framework for a project that addresses many of the First Nations concerns expressed so far, and we believe, meets the five conditions set out by the Province of British Columbia," said Luigi Aquilini, Chairman of the Aquilini Group. "We look forward to continuing to develop and mold these project ideas with First Nations input and consensus. We recognize that non-disclosure agreements are simply the first step in the process of earning a social license that may lead to binding agreements. First Nations support for this project is critical to its success, and we appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Eagle Spirit team in working closely with First Nations to learn first-hand about their concerns and provide new opportunities for future."
SOURCE: Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd.
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