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December 29, 2004 --- Vol. 10, No. 125December 2004

Governments team up for Mackenzie review

The Canadian and Northwest Territories governments have added another layer of cooperation to the environmental review of the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline, establishing a Joint Coordinating Committee that will bring seven federal and four Northwest Terrtitories departments under the same umbrella.

The move is in line with the joint review panel that has pulled together members of government, aboriginal communities and the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board that is expected to start hearings in April.

The 720-mile pipeline from the Mackenzie Delta to northern Alberta is expected to cost about C$3.8 billion, more than half the combined C$7 billion preliminary budget for the Mackenzie Gas Project.

Under pressure from industry leaders to increase their cooperation and help streamline the complex regulatory process, the Canadian and Northwest Territories governments see the joint coordinating committee as one way to reduce the potential for confusion, conflict and overlap in the environmental review phase.

Jon Pierce, co-chair of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that the governments have organized themselves to provide their best advice and technical expertise.

Peter Vician, the Northwest Territories’ deputy minister of resources, wildlife and economic development, said the new committee will be a benefit for the examination of the environmental impact statement and offer some coordination to the Mackenzie proponents.

The importance of regulatory regimes speeding up approvals of the Mackenzie and Alaska gas projects was underscored at a conference last month by Stephen Letwin, vice president, gas strategy, with Enbridge.

“We’re going to have to stop the fighting … and work together to get these projects done,” he said. “It’s going to require cooperation among producers, pipeliners, governments, aboriginal groups, suppliers, labor unions.

“It’s a win-win for everybody if we can get this under way,” he said. “We’ve said it enough times. Let’s get it done.”

Pelican Hill permitting two gas wells at North Pretty Creek

The state of Alaska is reviewing applications from Pelican Hill Oil and Gas for two exploration gas wells north of Pretty Creek on the west side of Cook Inlet. The company told the state that operations at the two sites are expected to begin in January.

The rig is currently at Pelican’s N. Beluga No. 1 exploration well, the first of as many as four wells the company plans to drill on the west side this winter. The North Pretty Creek wells will be drilled on state oil and gas lease ADL 390103. The drilling rig is a small self-propelled carrier-mounted rig that was used to drill Pelican’s Iliamna No. 1 near Trading Bay.

See complete story in the Jan. 2 issue of Petroleum News.

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