NEWS BULLETIN

September 11, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 116September 2001

Pipeline security heightened

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said that security on the trans-Alaska pipeline system has been heightened in response to the apparent terror attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Alyeska said it cannot elaborate on what steps are being taken but said that the pipeline is still operating and that there are no plans at this point to shut it down.

Aboriginal opposition could stall Mackenzie pipeline plans

Demands being made by an aboriginal community in the Northwest Territories could deal a setback to the timing of a natural gas pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta, said a consortium of Delta gas producers.

A spokesman for Imperial Oil, which heads the consortium of ExxonMobil Canada, Conoco Canada and Shell Canada, said plans to decide this year on whether to proceed with development "may not happen at this point."

He said conditions laid down by the Deh Cho First Nation, representing 4,000 residents of the southern Mackenzie Valley, are beyond the consortium's ability to negotiate. "These are issues for the Deh Cho and the federal government to resolve," he said. The spokesman emphasized that a pipeline can't be built without full support from northern aboriginal groups.

But the Deh Cho has opted out of a deal negotiated by the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, representing seven Native communities, that would have allowed aboriginals to own up to one-third of the C$3 billion pipeline.

A meeting of 10 chiefs from the Deh Cho area last week said they want a share of revenues and royalties from development of oil and gas on their land, full Deh Cho participation in environmental impact studies and a tentative land claims settlement with the federal government.

Nellie Cournoyea, co-chair of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, said she is unhappy with the Deh Cho stand, but insists that pipeline planning will continue. She said "one small group of people can't decide on the economic well-being of the majority of people in the Northwest Territories."

Cournoyea said a strategy is being developed to ensure Deh Cho opposition does not stall or scuttle Delta gas development.

NWT Energy Minister Joe Handley said that by holding out for a land claims deal, the Deh Cho could miss the chance to benefit from U.S. demands for natural gas.

Alberta ready to explore multi-purpose Alaska Highway link

Talk of a natural gas pipeline along the Alaska Highway has expanded to visions of a multi-purpose corridor, including a railroad and telecommunications links between the state and Alberta, said Jim Edwards, president of Economic Development Edmonton.

After meeting last month with officials from Alaska, including House Majority Leader Jeanette James, Edwards said he believes the railroad vision is worth pursuing. The U.S. Congress has commissioned a $6 million study of a 1,200 mile rail link between Fairbanks and Fort St. John, in northeastern British Columbia, where it would feed into existing rail lines.

"There is a dream-like quality to the proposal, but I wouldn't underestimate the resolve of the Alaskans," he said. "I don't think we can afford to ignore it. There may be a lot of reasons why Canada and Alberta would want to strengthen ties with Alaska."

James, who is spearheading the idea of a multi-purpose right-of-way with U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, said the primary goal is to connect Alaska to the Lower 48.

"But given our common interests in energy, I think Alberta would be one of the largest beneficiaries of this project," she told the Edmonton Journal. "I think a railroad would easily double the trade that is going on now."

Peter Wallis, a transportation expert with the Van Horne Institute, an Edmonton think tank, said the biggest question to be answered is whether there is enough demand to make a railroad viable.

James said the railroad would facilitate the gas pipeline and telecommunications links. While conceding the proposal is a dream, she is hopeful the Canadian government will provide study funds.

James has also introduced a bill in the Alaska legislature that would direct the state-owned Alaska Railroad to identify a rail and utility right of way from Alaska to Whitehorse. "The next step would be to draw in the private sector," she said.

James and other Alaska interests have organized a conference for next month to explore the proposal, which could have a price tag of $1.2 billion to $3.6 billion.


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