The Government of Saskatchewan is delivering on its commitment to ensure that Indigenous communities and businesses in the province are provided meaningful opportunities to participate in the Accelerated Site Closure Program (ASCP), which was a key component of federal funding.
The ASCP was designed to help manage the abandonment and reclamation of inactive oil and gas wells and facilities. As part of this program, the provincial government is introducing the First Nations Stewardship Fund and the Indigenous Business Credit Pool, two initiatives to support First Nations and Métis participation in the program.
“Our Indigenous partners will play a crucial role in Saskatchewan’s economic recovery,” Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said. “The ASCP is expected to create thousands of jobs, and it is our hope that these two collaborative agreements will increase participation by First Nations and Métis contractors and workers in the oil and gas sector.”
The First Nations Stewardship Fund will allocate $15 million in program funding to conduct abandonment and reclamation activities on First Nation Reserve lands across Saskatchewan. Eligible licensees (producers) with oil and gas sites on reserves will be able to access the fund by nominating sites for consideration. Licensees will engage with First Nations communities to ensure that their perspective is reflected in site closure work. If nomination numbers are sufficient, an additional $5 million will be made available to the fund.
The Indigenous Business Credit Pool will create an incentive for eligible licensees to work with First Nations and Métis contractors to complete program work. If companies collectively spend $30 million of their existing ASCP allocations using Indigenous oilfield service companies, they will be eligible to access an additional $15 million in ASCP funding for site closure work. The First Nations Natural Resource Centre of Excellence (COE), whose mandate is to create opportunities for First Nations communities for the sustainable, environmentally responsible development of natural resources within their lands, will review applicants for eligibility under the program.
For delivery of these programs, the provincial government is providing support to the COE, which will work with the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), licensees, oil and gas service companies, and First Nations communities to administer the First Nations Stewardship Fund and the Indigenous Business Credit Pool.
“Working with Minister Eyre and the Government of Saskatchewan, we are creating jobs, cleaning up our environment, and supporting the hardworking people in our oil and gas sector – including in First Nations and Métis communities,” Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan Jr. said.
Announced in May 2020 as part of the federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the $400 million ASCP is overseen by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources and delivered in partnership with the SRC. The program prioritizes Saskatchewan-based oil and gas service companies and will support more than 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs and reclaim up to 8,000 inactive wells and facilities over two years.
“A critical focus for our Chiefs and leadership is increased inclusion with regards to initiatives such as the ASCP in Saskatchewan,” Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) vice-chief Heather Bear said. “The ASCP will assist in not only helping our First Nations businesses participate in well reclamation work, but also in alleviating environmental concerns within our treaty and traditional lands which is of paramount importance.”
“We see the Accelerated Site Closure Program (ASCP) as a welcome opportunity for our First Nations businesses,” president and CEO of the Saskatchewan First Nations COE Sheldon Wuttunee said. “We are pleased to be at the table to make first-hand decisions alongside our provincial and federal counterparts when it comes to the development and implementation of the ASCP, which will build capacity of our First Nations businesses and organizations.”
“As a 100 per cent First Nation-owned and operated corporation that maximizes Indigenous employment, we are excited to be a recipient in this program, which will help ensure economic stability for our people,” Beretta general manager Darrell Carter said.
“As true stewards of the land, we would like to thank the Government of Saskatchewan for not only recognizing the need to remedy our lands of inactive oil and gas infrastructure, but also recognizing the importance of integrating Indigenous businesses to help complete the work.”
As of Dec. 31, 2020, the ASCP has issued more than $98 million in contracts to licensees to engage oil and gas service companies to complete abandonment and reclamation activities. The ASCP has engaged 98 licensees and 307 Saskatchewan-based service companies in program work to date. And as of Dec. 31, 2020, the program has completed 724 well abandonments, 175 flowline abandonments, 39 facility decommissions, and 1,434 site remediation and reclamation activities in Saskatchewan.