REGINA - Saskatchewan's Accelerated Site Closure Program (ASCP) has led to strong participation in two provincial programs, the First Nations Stewardship Fund and the Indigenous Business Credit Pool.
Announced in January 2021, these programs have leveraged $80 million in ASCP funding for First Nations and Métis contractors and for site closure work on reserve lands across Saskatchewan.
"The ASCP has created additional opportunities for oil and gas producers to engage with Indigenous contractors and communities," Energy and Resources Minister Jim Reiter said. "We know that Indigenous contractors have expanded their service offerings and that producers and communities have built strong relationships. We hope to see this continue on as a legacy outcome of the program."
The credit pool made ASCP funding available to participating oil and gas producers to engage eligible First Nations and Métis contractors to complete site closure work. The credit pool completed operations on Oct. 31, 2022, supporting over $28 million in spending on 34 eligible Indigenous contractors.
The credit pool has facilitated the creation of new partnerships between non-Indigenous and Indigenous oil and gas service companies.
“The federal government is pleased to have helped Indigenous contractors in their efforts to close sites on reserve lands across Saskatchewan. These funds supported Indigenous workers in uncertain times, while concurrently helping to clean up the environment,” Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said.
“I would like to thank all those who participated in the program, including the Government of Saskatchewan for working together on this important initiative.”
First Nations and Métis contractors have also seen success in the program outside of the credit pool. To date, Indigenous oil and gas service companies have completed an additional $22 million in site closure work, bringing the total for First Nations and Métis contractors to $50 million so far under the ASCP.
"The ASCP program has been an opportunity to showcase and build skills with the utilization of Indigenous companies and on-the-job training," said Beretta Pipeline Construction general manager Darrell Carter. "In addition, it has enabled many Indigenous workers to earn an income in uncertain times. The results have produced an excellent finished product for customers that we otherwise may not have had exposure to. We can all be proud of our accomplishment under the program."
The stewardship fund directs up to $30 million in ASCP funding to complete site closure work in First Nations communities with inactive oil and gas wells. As of Oct. 31, the stewardship fund had issued over $29 million in work packages on reserve lands, with over $24 million in site closure work completed or underway.
The stewardship fund is set to conclude on March 15, 2023.
The administration of the credit pool and stewardship fund is co-led by the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence and is supported by a collaboration agreement with the Saskatchewan Research Council.
"The ASCP has provided opportunities for many Indigenous companies across Saskatchewan. We thank the Government of Saskatchewan for the partnership and the inclusion of our Export Database platform, which has helped to connect Indigenous contractors and workers to the program, delivering upwards of $80M in site closure work to Indigenous companies and communities," said Sheldon Wuttunee, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan First Nations Natural Resources Centre of Excellence.
"We look forward to finding continued opportunities for Indigenous service companies following the conclusion of the ASCP."
The ASCP is a $400 million stimulus program for Saskatchewan-based oil and gas service sector companies and workers and is funded through the federal government's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. As of Oct. 31, the program has paid out $338 million to over 850 Saskatchewan-based service companies, supporting an estimated 1,556 direct full-time equivalent jobs. The ASCP has seen the completion of 7,409 well abandonments, 3,422 flowline abandonments, 61 facility decommissions and more than 11,900 site remediation and reclamation activities. The program is set to end on March 15, 2023.