Cracks are appearing in the ranks of Deh Cho First Nations, with two of the 14 groups making up the umbrella organization ready to break away and join the Mackenzie Gas Project.
The communities at Fort Liard and Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories are indicating they are interested in joining the Aboriginal Pipeline Group which takes a one-third equity stake in the proposed Mackenzie gas pipeline.
Keyna Norwegian, chief of the Fort Simpson-based Liidlii Kue First Nation, told the Globe and Mail that her community wants a role in the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, adding “we are actively pursuing a lot of business.”
CBC North reported that Fort Liard is also poised to make the leap.
Meanwhile, former NWT Premier Jim Antoine has been hired by the Aboriginal Pipeline Group to encourage other dissident Deh Cho nations to follow suit.
Price of holding out seen in Fort Liard response?Some observers believe the price of holding out against the Mackenzie project was mirrored in the refusal by exploration and production companies to answer an offering of gas exploration rights in the highly rated Fort Liard area.
The first call for nominations in a decade covered nine parcels and 321,000 acres and was seen as a test of industry confidence in the future stability of the Deh Cho region.
But, despite unanimous backing among Deh Cho leaders for the offering, there are no takers.
One industry source told Petroleum News that until Deh Cho land claims and self-government claims are settled “we have no desire to gamble in an uncertain environment.”
Harry Deneron, chief of Fort Liard’s Acho Dene Koe, the driving force among Deh Cho leaders in persuading the Canadian government to issue the call, said another offering is possible, but unlikely to occur any time soon.
Federal officials have conceded that the quality of the prospects may also have been a factor.
The government has promised to meet with the industry and Deneron to determine what went wrong.