By Jasmine Franklin
The Ermineskin Nation in Hobbema has signed an exploration partnership with One Earth Oil and Gas to identify high potential drilling sites on the reserve.
Ermineskin band gave the company access to at least 50 per cent of their land, said band Chief Gerry Ermineskin, who is excited about the partnership made official last week.
“This will be good financially as some money can be put into our social programs, housing and recreation,” Ermineskin said. “It’s a re-investment back into the band.”
One Earth Oil and Gas, has already targeted four drilling sites on the reserve and Ermineskin said drilling could start in six months.
The partnership will identify high potential drilling opportunities and establish a First Nations-owned Energy Company. Ermineskin said profit from the reserve’s oil sites could be in the millions.
“This is just the start of other things coming for the band,” he said.
Employment opportunities would sprout from the projects, Ermineskin told the Ponoka News. Jobs are expected to be created in the first year and are open to those trained in the oil field. The partnership also allows the Ermineskin band to decide which employees and companies will be selected to do the work.
Talks of the partnership began more than 18 months ago when an Ermineskin band councillor met Blaine Favel, president and CEO of One Earth Oil and Gas at a meeting in Toronto. After several conversations, adding the Ermineskin Nation into a partnership with the company seemed to be a win-win opportunity.
“One Earth Oil and Gas is committed to providing First Nations communities with the greatest opportunity to maximize economic value and assert control over development of their resources,” Favel said at an Edmonton meeting. “We have an experienced management team who are supportive of First Nations development and has respect for First Nations cultures, values and traditional lands.”
One Earth will share development costs with the Ermineskin band, which will receive its royalties from the oil and gas produced, as well as a share of company profits. The band will also be offered a stake in the company as it expands to other First Nations with the program.
One Earth Oil is a spin-off of the company One Earth Farms Corp that Favel also runs. One Earth Farm Corp works with the First Nations to reserve farmland and eventually lease it. Owned by Sprott Resource Corp, One Earth Farm now has about a million acres under contract on the Prairies.
Ermineskin said this is a route the band could also take by signing on with One Earth Farm and leasing their land.