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First Nation in northern Alberta signs oilsands lease development MOU with Suncor

Suncor Energy Inc. says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta on a prospective oilsands lease development opportunity on reserve lands.

The Calgary-based oilsands company says it is progressing early-stage technical and commercial feasibility assessments to determine the quality and quantity of economically recoverable bitumen ore in the area, which is located within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and on the Fort McKay First Nation’s traditional territory.

Fort McKay is 50 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Suncor’s executive vice-president for oilsands Peter Zebedee said in a news release that the partnership would give the First Nation the opportunity to govern oilsands activity on their land and fully participate and benefit from resource development.

He said the potential opportunity could provide Suncor with bitumen supply optionality post-2040.

Fort McKay First Nation Chief Raymond Powder said the agreement charts a new path for economic development on Indigenous lands and will help secure the local community’s future growth.

“With this agreement, we are creating the conditions for sustainable prosperity, growth and health for our nation for generations to come, while leading the way on protecting our land and water,” Powder said. 

The Fort McKay First Nation says it supports Suncor’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions from its oilsands operations by 2050, as well as the work of the Pathways Alliance oilsands industry group, which has proposed building a major carbon capture transportation and storage network in northern Alberta.

Suncor’s Base Plant and Syncrude have been operating for decades and are the oldest mines in the oil sands. The agreement could give Suncor an option for additional supply after 2040 as Base Plant nears the end of its life in the mid-2030s.

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