Calvin Helin, Chairman and President of Eagle Spirit Energy Holding Ltd. is in Calgary this week, spreading news about an important First Nations energy initiative. Helin believes the Eagle Spirit Energy Corridor is a nation-building project – the first indigenous-led major infrastructure project in Canadian history.
In a presentation to the 2018 International Pipeline Conference yesterday, Helin pointed out that the First Nations that did not want to support the Northern Gateway Pipeline for environmental reasons were not against pipelines in general. With the environment as a first priority, Helin worked on a new environmental case for a pipeline project that was similar to Northern Gateway.
It became more than an oil pipeline and is now a plan for a corridor involving potential upgraders, four 48-inch pipelines, (two crude oil and two NGL pipelines) plus an opportunity for a petrochemical feedstock plant to export a higher value product. An important aspect of this project is to seek NEB approval under the new process for the entire Corridor project rather than individual approvals for each component. There is a variety of shared services that make the Corridor much more economical. Helin feels it is an opportunity to turn Northern BC and Alberta into an area of green energy development.
The Eagle Spirit corridor route will go from Fort McMurray Alberta to the Grassy Point port in a community of the Lax Kw’alaams Band, less than 10 minutes to open water.
The Corridor is in territories where it has found First Nations support. Eagle Spirit Energy’s crude oil pipeline would carry medium to heavy crude without condensate. which will satisfy critics who say diluted bitumen would be much harder to clean up than crude oil after a spill. Eagle Spirit Energy CEO Calvin Helin says 35 First Nations supported the pipeline because it wouldn’t carry diluted bitumen and that this robust support, along with the fact that the risk rating for shipping from the port near Prince Rupert is very low, means the project has excellent chances for regulatory approval.
However, as Bill C48 plans to formally ban tankers from the North BC Coast and could become law later this year, it will be an obstacle for northern pipeline proposals. In preparation, the elected mayor of the Lax Kw’alaams Band has already launched a constitutional challenge of the ban, and if that fails Eagle Spirit Energy says it has a deal with landowners to establish a port terminal in Alaska if necessary to bypass the ban. Helin’s position is that it is much more advantageous to use a Canadian port and that there is also room to develop LNG for export to Asian markets.
In addition, Eagle Spirit Energy intends to produce Canadian oil with a very low GHG footprint. They’ve partnered with R.I.I. North America.The R.I.I.process is an efficient (low energy and low cost) enhanced oil recovery process that can extract heavy oil or bitumen eliminating 90% of the carbon emissions compared to conventional upstream extraction methods. Calvin Helin finished his presentation with a statement that Eagle Spirit Energy is looking forward to working with members of the pipeline industry in attendance at the IPC conference. Helin is scheduled to speak again this Friday September 28th at the 5th Sino-Canada Energy Forum in Calgary.
Maureen McCall is a freelance writer and has over 13 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry from operations to land and joint ventures