PO BLOG

A Matter of Trust

Changing land management as we know it

Published in May, 2019

Trust cannot be bought or negotiated, it has to be earned and maintained over time. The success of this approach is rooted in neutrality, integrity and professionalism.

 

By Dave Baspaly

Land agents have worked on behalf of oil, gas and mining companies for more than 150 years. While they are an essential element for landowner relations, there is a problem with the underlying premise from a landowner’s perspective.

Land agents work for the company that hired them—not the landowner. So how can they represent the interests of the landowner independently or objectively?

This question has forced a fundamental rethink of land management.

What if, instead of maintaining a land management department within a company, a neutral third-party land agent were hired by both the landowners and the company equally? This approach would reduce perceived bias and create true sharing of ownership and control.

A leap of faith would be required—from both parties. The companies would let go of their intrinsic control and move their land resources into the centre of the table. Landowners would work together and trust in the process.

The good news is that for almost a quarter century, the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations (CAEPLA) has been championing this concept. It has successfully helped companies and landowners understand the value of this approach.

What has been missing is an independent land-management company that understands this methodology and can act on the ground as a professional neutral guarantor.

Trust cannot be bought or negotiated; it has to be earned and maintained over time. The success of this approach is rooted in neutrality, integrity and professionalism. In essence, it provides the guarantee to both parties that they have met the spirit of the agreement.

That’s where Infocus Land Management’s Independent Construction Monitoring comes in.

This revolutionary new approach is currently being tested in two places: TransCanada’s Towerbirch Expansion Project and Enbridge’s Line 3 Expansion Project. So far, the partnership is demonstrating how to do things right.

Towerbirch Expansion Project

The Towerbirch project includes the construction of 87 kilometres of new gas pipelines and additional associated facilities, including meter stations, valve sites and pipeline tie-ins, in northwest Alberta and northeast B.C.

Infocus construction monitors have been onsite for more than a year. They represent the interests of landowners actively to ensure the project is done right (in accordance with the agreement) and that all ground activities are verified independently.

This project is now complete and is delivering natural gas to customers.

Line 3 Replacement Program

The multibillion-dollar Line 3 Replacement Program is the largest project in Enbridge history. The new Line 3 will comprise the newest and most advanced pipeline technology—and provide much needed incremental capacity to support Canadian crude oil production growth and U.S. and Canadian refinery demand.

The program, with a $5.3-billion (Cdn) Canadian component and a $2.9-billion (US) American component, expands on the former Line 3 Segment Replacement Program, and will include all remaining segments of Line 3 between Hardisty, Alta., and Superior, Wis. All told, the Line 3 Replacement Program will fully replace 1,660 kilometres (1,031 miles) of Line 3 with new pipeline and associated facilities on either side of the Canada-U.S. border.

Again, Infocus construction monitors have been onsite for more than a year ensuring independent compliance with the negotiated agreement between landowners and the pipeline company. The work is ongoing and expanding.

To get involved in the future of land management, or to learn more about this unique service, please contact CAEPLA or Infocus Land Management.

Infocus is an Aboriginal-controlled Canadian land management company that has been in business for more than 10 years. It is committed to being an honest broker that embraces the model described above. 

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER WINTER 2018