Canada is ready to open its Arctic regions to natural gas development, federal Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Robert Nault will tell a Houston conference on Monday.
He said April 3 the speech will make it clear that the legislative, regulatory and policy pieces are now in place to handle a pipeline proposal for the Mackenzie Valley and any other ventures in Canada’s Arctic.
Key developments in recent months have included the transfer of the Mackenzie Delta file to the Prime Minister’s Office to end infighting between Nault’s department and the Department of Natural Resources.
To further help clear the red-tape, Nault announced in February that a federal office was being opened in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to handle an anticipated pipeline application from the Mackenzie Delta Producers Group.
Nault plans to tell his U.S. audience that Canada’s vast untapped northern reserves could be a key element in developing secure North American supplies and reducing dependence on Middle East oil.
Promotion of that potential is quickening just as U.S. lawmakers revive talk of some form of subsidies to allow construction of a US$20 billion pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope.
Industry and political leaders in Canada are increasingly anxious about Wednesday’s moves by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to endorse amendments to President George W. Bush’s energy bill by offering tax credits and accelerated depreciation to North Slope gas owners ConocoPhillips and BP PLC.
If the Alaska project proceeds first, the fear in Canada is that development of the Mackenzie Delta would be derailed indefinitely.