Early and earnest engagement with First Nations has helped Canada’s LNG project proponents: new report

In Canada’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector, the companies that have succeeded in moving their projects forward spent considerable time and resources on First Nations consultation and engagement.

They engaged early and earnestly and learned that First Nations were not interested in being merely rent-seeking landlords, but wanted in as business partners and potential shareholders, finds a newly released report, Building Trust: Canadian LNG Developers & First Nations.

This is the third of four special reports on the theme of Canada and the Natural Gas Economy that JWN Energy’s Daily Oil Bulletin and Evaluate Energy is producing in collaboration with the Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources.

The first report, LNG: Canada’s Global Market Opportunity, examines how Canadian gas supplies can help meet burgeoning market demand and offer a transformative opportunity for struggling producers. The second, Canada’s Green LNG Advantage, looks at the country’s unique “green” advantages, and how Canadian projects can leverage abundantrenewable energy resources to produce the world’s lowest greenhouse gas-emitting LNG.

There has been a major evolution over the past decade in the way the oil and gas and pipeline industries approach Indigenous relations and partnerships.

For too long, Canada’s Indigenous peoples have been kept on the outside of economic development, looking in.

The new special report examines how LNG developers have consulted with First Nations, how to get it right, and why these types of partnerships matter. It covers:

  • Best practices for First Nations engagement, including the need for LNG project proponents to be flexible when dealing with Indigenous peoples, and to take their concerns to heart;
  • How LNG development can be used to promote ‘economic reconciliation’ with Canada’s Indigenous community, with partnerships evolving to where First Nations take equity positions in projects; and,
  • The benefits of pursuing greater involvement of Indigenous communities in energy developments — how it’s worked in Alberta and how those lessons can be transferred to other jurisdictions — and why it should matter to all Canadians.

Ultimately, those behind the projects that are now moving ahead say the key to success is building trust. And that may mean doing things differently than in the past.

“You can’t come in here and push a timeframe and a way of negotiating that isn’t acceptable to the counterparty,” says Susannah Pierce, director of corporate affairs with LNG Canada. “That is not the way they do things. You can’t rush it. You’ve got to build the trust up front, because there’s years and years of evidence where that trust has been decimated.

“Be available, be responsive and be respectful.”

Click here to access the full report.

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