Sask. First Nation 'kicking up the dust' with flare gas-to-power facility

A new flare gas-to-power facility is the latest venture added to Flying Dust First Nation’s (FDFN) portfolio of businesses, bringing their goal of economic independence one step closer.

With assistance from the province, FDFN and partner Genalta Power signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for a 15-megawatt flare gas-to-power facility near Coleville, Sask. in mid-November.

The Kopahawakenum Flare to Power Facility (KFP), Cree for "Kicking up the Dust,” will be built north of Kindersley, Sask.

The construction of the KFP plant will create 50 jobs on site during construction. Once in operation, it will employ about 20 staff.

"This project will provide much needed own-source revenue to our community and membership for years to come,” said Chief Jeremy Norman in a news release about the signing.

FDFN has about 1,570 members living on-reserve and 600 living off-reserve. FDFN began economic development in 1988 and today it owns and co-owns 18 companies.

Those businesses include property management, construction, engineering, environment, sand and gravel, retail, security and an oil company.

“Our long term goal is to create employment and revenue number one, number two and three is to have sustainable long-term businesses,” said FDFN economic development officer Albert Derocher.

Derocher says the FDFN Holding Company directly employs 120 people and in total FDFN employs 240 people.

“We are underfunded so that’s one of the reasons why we generate as much revenue as we can to supplement,” said Derocher.

Derocher says education, health and buildings are some of the areas the band has had to generate revenue in order to improve services and facilities for band members.

About 10 per cent of the revenue from the KFP power plant will be directed to FDFN.

One percent of the revenue from KFP will go into a scholarship fund for their post-secondary students.

When the project is complete in 2023, it will be the largest flare-gas-to-power operation in the province, producing 15 MW of electricity - enough to supply about 9,000 Saskatchewan homes.

The province estimates it represents about $30 million of capital investment into Saskatchewan.

Genalta Power estimates the KFP facility will require about four million cubic feet of gas per day, resulting in the reduction of around 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

The fuel source for the plant is flare gas or vent methane from the oil industry.

“Vent volumes are predominantly methane and that has a much higher impact on greenhouse gas effects than pure CO2. By removing that we are removing what we consider CO2 emissions from the atmosphere,” said Genalta Power President and CEO Paul Miller.

The engines do create carbon dioxide when burning but now the energy from the flare gas will be used to make electricity, says Miller.

“We’re improving the overall utilization of energy for every barrel that’s being extracted from the ground,” Miller said.

Genalta Power has built 10 waste-to-power facilities in Alberta, including Peace River and White Court.