Indigenous ownership group advancing Alberta CCS project

Reconciliation Energy Transition plans initial storage of up to five million tonnes of CO2 per year

By James Snell
Project Reconciliation leadership (L-R): Steve Butler, executive vice-president business development and carbon trading; Warren MacPhail, executive vice-president engineering; Trevor Conway, chief financial officer; Michelle Goodkey, vice-president external relations; Stephen Mason, chief executive officer; Dennis Cornelson, managing director. Photo by James Snell for Canadian Energy Centre

Indigenous ownership of major Canadian energy projects and businesses is on the rise – from oil pipelines in northern Alberta, to liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects on the west coast, to earthworks contracting near the Yukon border. 

Reconciliation Energy Transition Inc. (RETI), an Alberta-based company created to further Indigenous partnerships in Canada’s energy transition sector, is building on the trend.  

Aside from its mission to acquire 100 per cent Indigenous ownership of the Trans Mountain Pipeline system through an affiliate organization called Project Reconciliation, RETI plans to develop the East Calgary Region Carbon Sequestration Hub and to produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel. 

“A lot of the time you watch the wealth from large projects pass by Indigenous communities. One of the things we are doing here is trying to build inter-generational wealth and looking at projects that are long-term, where the communities can actually be involved in a meaningful way,” says Michelle Goodkey, vice-president of external relations with Project Reconciliation.  

“You can’t get sovereignty without economic sovereignty, so that is really why we are here. It’s more than just setting a seat at the table. It’s creating a new table.” 

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects involve complex engineering to capture carbon dioxide that’s a by-product of burning fossil fuels and store it deep underground so it can’t enter the atmosphere, says James Millar, CEO of the International CCS Knowledge Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

“Canada has been a leader in the first generation of CCS,” he says. “We are home to five of the world’s 30 commercial CCS facilities, and we account for approximately 15 per cent of current global CCS capacity even though our country generates less than two per cent of global CO2 emissions.”   

RETI is working with the provincial government to evaluate the suitability of the CCS hub, which would use deep saline aquifers to sequester carbon dioxide, says CEO Stephen Mason.  

The company’s plan is for initial storage of up to five million tonnes of CO2 per year, increasing to 10 million tonnes per year in future development phases. 

The hub would encompass hundreds of square kilometres of prairie just north of the Siksika Nation in southern Alberta. It contains thousands of oil and gas wells along with hundreds of grain and livestock farms.  

Meanwhile, Project Reconciliation’s bid to acquire Trans Mountain Corporation from the federal government is a case of “hurry up and wait,” Mason says. 

“The money is standing there as it has been on the sidelines waiting for the federal government to give an indication they are ready to transact,” he says. “The price is well into the billions.”  

At least two other Indigenous organizations are also seeking to purchase Trans Mountain: Nesika Services and Chinook Pathways. 

Stay tuned as CEC works to profile these two groups in the future 

If Project Reconciliation obtains Trans Mountain, Mason says the organization will create a sovereign wealth fund to invest in other infrastructure projects such as high-voltage transmission corridors. 

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