B.C. heavy oil refinery project names aboriginal leaders as advisors – Financial Post

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CALGARY – Two high-profile aboriginal leaders are expected to join the Pacific Future Energy Corp. proposed heavy oil refinery project in British Columbia in advisory roles.

The company is expected to announce Wednesday that Shawn Atleo and Ovide Mercredi, both former national chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations, will join the Vancouver-based company.

Pacific Future Energy is planning a refinery to process Alberta bitumen. Its first phase would cost $10-billion and process 200,000-barrels-a-day of bitumen from the oil sands that could be transported by rail. The next four phases of the project, which would raise the cost to $34-billion, could be supported by a pipeline.

Mr. Atleo is expected to join its management team as senior advisor. Mr. Mercredi is joining as member of an advisory board chaired by former federal cabinet minister Stockwell Day.

“I see this as a major opportunity to shape a new direction in major project development,” Mr. Atleo said. “The only way a project will proceed is if First Nations are directly involved, and providing their consent and their support, and their full partnership if that is what they choose.”

Mr. Mercredi said there is a great need for a new approach that recognizes traditional lands and territories and “the third order of government.

“Where governments failed, perhaps, developers, industry and the business world can succeed,” he said.

The appointments come as another project, the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc., is planning to offer greater equity participation and control to B.C. First Nations.

Samer Salameh, Pacific Future Energy’s executive chairman, said his company wants to work with Canada’s aboriginal peoples by showing full respect of their inherent rights and title. “We stand in full support of achieving a true partnership with Indigenous Peoples, communities and families,” he said.

Claudia Cattaneo | December 10, 2014 8:31 AM ET

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