Mackenzie Delta gas producers will be in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, on Monday, reportedly to sign an agreement on one-third aboriginal ownership of a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
The consortium is keeping tight-lipped about its intentions, but Northwest Territories Natural Resources Minister Joe Handley said the producers are "signing an agreement because they intend to build a pipeline."
A spokesman for Imperial Oil, the lead partner in the producers' group, confirmed a meeting is scheduled. Beyond that he would only say that the purpose was to strengthen "business relations" with aboriginal communities.
The other partners are Conoco Canada Inc, Shell Canada Ltd. and ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. Petro-Canada, Anderson Exploration Ltd. (which is being taken over by Devon Energy Corp.) and Burlington Resources Inc. all have major land holdings and exploration programs on the Delta.
An agreement would not include the bulk of the 10 communities in the Deh Cho First Nations, whose Grand Chief Mike Nadli said a pact would undermine "good faith" negotiations.
The Deh Cho have insisted on settling a wide range of land claims and access issues with the Canadian government before they would consider joining the Aboriginal Pipeline Group in any deal giving aboriginals one-third ownership of a possible C$4 billion pipeline.
Five of the six native regions along the pipeline right-of-way signed a preliminary agreement in June that gives them the opportunity to secure from producers up to 500 million cubic feet per day of shipments on the pipeline, along with job training, employment and business opportunities.