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A unique approach to maintenance on our NGTL System

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At TC Energy, we are always exploring and working to engage qualified and competitive Indigenous entrepreneurs and businesses in communities where we operate. The NGTL Riser Assessment Program is a key example of an operational program that supports this value. Read the story below to learn more about this important initiative.

A small step in a big transition

When we build our pipeline systems, we build them to last. Part of that includes working with contractors and construction personnel who can help us continue to meet industry-leading standards and stay on top of the work required to keep natural gas flowing safely across our pipeline systems every day.

In 2021, that prompted the Canadian Natural Gas Pipeline Integrity team to ask the question – Are there Indigenous-owned or affiliated contractors near our facilities that could meet this need?

This question led to a transition – and over the past three construction seasons, TC Energy’s NGTL Riser Assessment Program in Alberta has been led in the field by either Indigenous-owned or Indigenous-affiliated contractors.  As part of TC Energy’s larger efforts to embed reconciliation in our work and increase Indigenous participation in our projects and operations, this program takes a small step forward by seeking out and evaluating more Indigenous contractors.

François Poirier, President and CEO Siim A. Vanaselja, Chair of the Board

A ripple effect of opportunity

This program, which annually assesses and repairs risers along the NGTL System, was a great way for TC Energy to start testing out this unique approach and has helped us collaborate with contractors like Backwoods Energy Services – an Indigenous company owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. As a General Contractor, they managed the scope of work for the 2022 program and brought their expertise to support the outreach to other Indigenous communities for employment and subcontracting opportunities.

“We’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with TC Energy on this program, which has helped launch new and exciting opportunities for our pipeline integrity and mechanical services division,” shared Ross Morrison, Senior Vice President Business Development & Partnerships at Backwoods Energy Services.

This approach has also helped Indigenous contractors and Nations begin new dialogues in support of their own reconciliation efforts and the work that TC Energy has been doing in Indigenous communities across our footprint.

“We have not seen the entire landscape of what we can do, but we know we have a very strong team, and the future is bright for Backwoods,” commented Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.

We look forward to continuing to nurture meaningful, long-term relationships with Indigenous communities through shared hiring, contracting, mentorship, and training opportunities.

Looking ahead

With the success of last year’s program, TC Energy Project Manager, Nicole Kucirek, believes that there will be more opportunities for Indigenous-owned businesses to support this program in the future.

"I am thrilled to see the positive impact that our program had on Backwoods last year, and I am confident that this success will lead to even more opportunities for Indigenous businesses in the future,” shares Nicole. “It’s important to TC Energy and myself as an individual, to support the growth and the development of the Indigenous businesses in the areas where we operate."

The 2022 program highlighted new ways for us to engage with Indigenous-owned businesses, and the incoming team that will oversee the 2023 NGTL Riser Assessment Program is already looking at new ways to further diversify the portfolio – for NGTL and Mainline maintenance work across Canada – so we can keep building these types of collaborations even further.