With the Mackenzie Gas Project having passed a major milestone and entered the formal regulatory process, the Deh Cho First Nations opposition has hardened.
Deh Cho Grand Chief Herb Norwegian said the project is “not going anywhere until the (Canadian) government deals with us fairly.
“Something will have to give, sooner or later,” he said.
The Deh Cho, whose territory covers the southern 40 percent of the likely pipeline route, are trying to halt the critical environmental review unless they can appoint two representatives to the seven-member review panel and get progress with the Canadian government on their unresolved land claims.
Norwegian suggested that the minority government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, which is clinging to power by a thread, could be pressured by Mackenzie lead partner Imperial Oil to deal with the Deh Cho issues.
But Imperial has insisted that it has no role in negotiations between the government and the Deh Cho.
Delays resulting from two Deh Cho lawsuits are seen by independent observers as a cause for worry.
David MacInnis, president of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, said Deh Cho opposition could add to costs which have now climbed to C$7 billion from C$5 billion.
However, those increases were attributed by Imperial to new facilities, including a separate natural gas liquids pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta to Norman Wells in the Central Mackenzie Valley, added capacity and results of the initial engineering work.
Imperial spokesman Hart Searle said the estimates are continuing to evolve, without indicating whether the partners have a break-even limit.
Editor’s note: See complete story in Oct. 17 issue of Petroleum News.