Blog: From LNG, ‘real benefits’ needed

“For First Nations to be true partners in LNG development, real benefits must materialize.”

That was one of the key issues explored in the major Joint Engagement Report that we published earlier this year with the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources.

The report notes: “Many ideas were generated about First Nations views around benefits, understanding that the choices differ from community to community.”

Some of the challenges:

  • Equity participation capital is challenging to raise and not all proponents are supportive for those First Nations wanting equity participation.
  • Concerns were raised about different approaches by proponents (inequitable treatment from one proponent dealing with different First Nations or proponents that do not have a good track record in dealing with First Nations).
  • First Nation businesses need support to have the necessary skills, training and human resources and capacity to respond to business opportunities.

And here are some suggestions from the regional sessions that led to the report:

  • BC and First Nations should explore tools to equalize First Nation benefits from major projects (i.e. resource tax).
  • BC should explore ways to increase First Nation participation in spinoff benefits for major projects.
  • BC should continue to provide consistent capacity funding to First Nations to negotiate benefits agreements with the Province.
  • BC should consider incentives for proponents to engage early, and often, with First Nations throughout the development proposals so First Nations can plan appropriately for taking advantage of economic opportunities but also for managing impacts. Incentives could enable proactive proponents to move through the regulatory processes quicker.
  • BC should look for strategies to improve First Nation and industry relations. And First Nations and proponents need tools to successfully implement Impact Benefit Agreements.
  • BC should continue to provide consistent capacity funding to First Nations to negotiate benefits agreements with the Province.
  • Create more transparency and equity around government-First Nations benefit agreement negotiations processes.
  • Some thought there should be a minimum standard that ensures proponents who impact First Nation territories are compelled to engage with the First Nations impacted.
  • Camp facilities could be converted to First Nation community uses after they are no longer needed for project development work.

There’s much more in the full report.

For one thing, the report notes: “If LNG projects are done in a way that respects First Nation interests, they will be the most safe, environmentally rigorous, and human-rights-compliant projects in the world.”

The report’s lead researcher, Kim Baird, also wrote about lessons learned from the First Nations procurement experience in BC’s LNG industry. See pages 34-35 of the Aboriginal Business Report magazine.