Enbridge gets first aboriginal partner for Gateway

Fri Dec 2, 2011 3:28pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Gitxsan First Nation said on Friday it has agreed to become the first aboriginal partner for Enbridge Inc's C$5.5 billion ($5.42 billion) Northern Gateway oil pipeline, one day after other native groups in British Columbia pledged to block the project.

Elmer Derrick, a hereditary chief of the Gitxsan, said in a statement that the group had decided to take an equity stake in the line. Enbridge will finance the purchase.

"Over time, we have established a relationship of trust with Enbridge, we have examined and assessed this project, and we believe it can be built and operated safely," Derrick said.

The agreement comes a day after a coalition of other British Columbia first nations formed a united front to oppose all exports of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands through their territories.

Enbridge's planned Northern Gateway pipeline would move 525,000 barrels a day of oil sands-derived oil 1,177 km (731 miles) from Edmonton, Alberta, to the Pacific port of Kitimat, British Columbia.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)