August 31, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 108August 2001

NWT aboriginals put land claims ahead of pipeline ownership

A hold-out aboriginal community in the Northwest Territories now wants to use a proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline to speed up land claim and self-government talks with the government.

But spokesmen for the Deh Cho First Nation conceded a land claim could take five years to settle, well outside the time-frame set by the Mackenzie Delta Producers' Group of Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Conoco Canada and ExxonMobil Canada.

If the group decided later this year to press ahead with development of Delta gas it has indicated that planning, regulatory approvals and construction would likely need five to eight years, although Conoco chairman Archie Dunham has set a three- to six-year timetable.

The Deh Cho voted Thursday to put their land claim ahead of pipeline decisions, rejecting a tentative deal worked out by the Delta produces and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group that would have given six aboriginal communities along the route a one-third ownership stake.

Deh Cho assistant negotiator Herb Norwegian said the community needed to hear from "the producers and the multinationals out there that want to do business in the Deh Cho territory that it's the Deh Cho government they want to do business with."

Doug Cardinal, former Deh Cho representative on the APG, was bitter about the community vote. "That's one of the things that's detrimental to us. We put our people out there and we sacrifice them at times."

Nellie Cournoyea, co-chair of the APG, said the Deh Cho should look at the pipeline as a business opportunity, not a bargaining chip for land claims.

Phillips begins North Slope winter exploration permitting

Phillips Alaska Inc. has begun filing permits for work on up to 18 temporary pads during the 2001-2002 North Slope winter exploration drilling season.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said it is proposing to revise 18 air quality control construction permits from the 2000-2001 drilling season for Phillips' 2001-2002 winter drilling program. The permits will authorize continued exploratory drilling and well testing.

DEC said the Division of Governmental Coordination found exploration drilling at the 18 sites consistent with the Alaska Coastal Management Program during December 2000 through April 2001 and determined that the proposed permit revision to extend the duration of activities does not require additional project consistency review.

New National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska wells include: Outlook No. 1; Rendezvous Nos. 1 and 2; Oxbow No. 1; Spark Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5; Hunter No. 1; and Sunrise Nos. 1 and 2.

Old NPR-A wells include: Clover B; Lookout A; Moose's Tooth A and C; and Rendezvous B.

At Kuukpik, the Nanuq No. 4 and at Alpine, Alpine West No. 2.

DEC said that Phillips plans to continue exploration, drilling, and well testing activities on up to 18 temporary pads during the 2001-02 winter drilling season.

DEC said that based on preliminary review the activities will comply with emission standards and ambient air quality standards. After the public comment period closes Sept. 28; DEC will consider comments received, make any changes it finds beneficial or necessary, and make a final decision on whether to issue or deny the permits.

B.C. plans blockade strategy; fourth company ordered to shut down

The British Columbia government has promised action within a few days on unspecified "initiatives" to end a blockade of natural gas fields that has now hit a fourth company.

A delegation of top government officials, led by Deputy Energy Minister Jack Ebbels, assured the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers on Thursday that plans are being developed to resolve the dispute over Indian treaty rights and land claims.

CAPP president Pierre Alvarez said the industry leaders "got a sense" that the province is taking the two-week confrontation seriously and hopes its "initiatives" will meet with success in the new two weeks. He said CAPP pointed out to the delegation that multi-million dollar exploration programs in place for the winter drilling season now hang in the balance.

But Alvarez said any negotiations on aboriginal treaty rights are complex, requiring participation from the British Columbia and Canadian governments, and won't be quickly resolved.

Meanwhile, Canadian Natural Resources has been ordered off Native land in the area of the Ladyfern gas discoveries, joining Petro-Canada, Anadarko Petroleum and Westcoast Energy on the list of companies targeted by the Indian tribes.

Kelvin Davis, chief of the Doig River First Nation, said Canadian Natural was ordered to leave because it received a permit from the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission to build a feeder pipeline with capacity of 680 million cubic feet per day without any consultation with his First Nation.

"We are not against development, but we need to be involved in decisions on the permits so we get our rights recognized," he said.

Canadian Natural is currently producing 50 million cubic feet per day in Ladyfern and hopes to reach 400 million cubic feet per day early in 2002.

The company's senior vice-president Steve Laut said the Indians are using Canadian Natural as leverage to get a response from the British Columbia government. "We are continuing to work with the (aboriginals). We don't want to cause any harm," he said.

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