March 21, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 30March 2002

Yukon natives demand role in pipeline discussions

The Yukon's largest aboriginal group, unhappy about being frozen out of talks over an Alaska Highway gas pipeline, is ready to pull its support for the project.

The Kwanlin Dun First Nation wants C$60 million in government money to study the environmental and social impact of the proposed line, said Judy Gingell, chief executive officer of the Kwanlin Development Corp.

"We have largely been kept in the dark by industry and governments on this project," she told a March 19 news conference in Calgary.

Kwanlin Dun Chief Rick O'Brien said it would be "tragic if this potentially great opportunity ended up being stalled in Canadian courts because of a lack of proper planning and consultation."

Gingell said her community is worried that an influx of up to 3,000 construction workers into the Yukon will boost inflation and harm wildlife.

About 90 miles of the proposed 2,000-mile line would cross Kwanlin Dun land, which surrounds the Yukon capital of Whitehorse.

The aboriginal leaders stressed that although they favor a pipeline they are determined to get a share of royalties or land rental paid by gas producers or pipeline operators.

$250 million 'preposterous'

Scott Heyworth of Our Gas Our Future, who got an initiative certified for the November ballot to create a state authority for an instate gas project, told PNA March 20 that the $175-$250 up-front costs the Department of Revenue sees necessary before bonds could be sold is "preposterous."

Heyworth hadn't seen the Revenue estimates March 14 when they were discussed at a House Special Committee on Oil and Gas hearing. He said then that he'd heard a start-up cost of $3 to $3.5 million discussed, but thought that was too high.

"I don't think it's anywhere near that number. I think it's more like a million or a million and a half," he said.

The authority wouldn't "incur any debt until the bonds are bought and we start the project," Heyworth said: "…we're not investing in the project before it's been decided by Wall Street that it's a viable project."

Heyworth told PNA March 20 that $250 million in start-up costs is "preposterous."

"Mr. Condon and his Department of Revenue have no idea how this gas project is put together. He assumes one must buy the permits, engineer the entire project and apparently make a down payment on the gas at the well head to come up with this preposterous number of $250 million in 'startup' costs," Heyworth said.

An experienced LNG team would be hired, he said, and they would negotiate permits and negotiate a gas price and negotiate with purchasers. Construction cost estimates are done on computer and as for the engineering, companies would be interested in doing that on a contingency basis, just as they have for the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, Heyworth said.

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