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Vol. 14, No. 40 Week of October 04, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Oil Patch Insider: Canada takes delivery of two Arctic submarines

The Canadian government has taken delivery of two remote-controlled submarines that will be used in mapping the Arctic seabed. The program’s purpose is to document Canada’s territorial claims in the Arctic beyond the 200-nautical-mile limit. The data will be used to support the country’s submission to the United Nations in 2013 on the extent of Canada’s sovereign rights in the Arctic.

“Canada is the first country in the world to use this type of technology” to map the Arctic, John Weston, a member of parliament, said Sept. 29.

The unmanned submarines, manufactured in British Columbia, will operate under the ice in Canada’s High Arctic waters.

The submersibles “will help ensure Canada puts forward the strongest possible submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2013, demonstrating the full extent of its continental shelf,” said Lawrence Cannon, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs.

—Kay Cashman

Cordova group wins TAPS monitoring grant

A nonprofit organization in Cordova, Alaska, has received a $48,380 federal grant to “support citizen safety monitoring of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.”

The Copper River Watershed Project was among 21 local communities and organization nationwide to receive grants of up to $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“PHMSA’s technical assistance grants will garner positive participation from American communities interested in broadening and enhancing their efforts in pipeline safety matters,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a Sept. 17 press release.

The Copper River Watershed Project was incorporated in late 1997 and counts Riki Ott, a marine biologist and author known for her activism following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, as the organization’s founding director.

According to the group’s grant application, the money will go toward such projects as researching trans-Alaska oil pipeline maintenance and operations; tracking drills and federal enforcement actions involving Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which runs the 800-mile pipeline; and creating a listserv, Web site, community presentations and radio ads to engage people along the entire pipeline corridor.

Kristin Smith, the organization’s executive director, told Petroleum News one major concern is how quickly Alyeska could respond to a spill from the pipeline into a tributary of the salmon-rich Copper River.

—Wesley Loy

Pearce heads to Ottawa for gas line discussions

Following meetings in September between the United States and Canada on economic and bilateral issues, Drue Pearce will travel to Ottawa in early October for talks on the progress of the Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Pearce, who heads the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, is scheduled to meet with newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobsen, as well as other Canadian leaders.

—Kay Cashman

National Post: Iran acquiring nuclear materials in Canada

According to a recent story in the National Post, Iran is acquiring nuclear materials in Canada.

A senior Canadian official told the newspaper that Iran has been running a sophisticated procurement operation in Alaska’s neighbor to the east, to acquire materials for its nuclear and weapons programs.

The rings involve both entrepreneurs and state-sponsored cells, George Webb, head of the Canada Border Services Agency’s Counter Proliferation Section, told the National Post.

Canadian customs officers have “seized everything from centrifuge parts to programmable logic controllers that were being illicitly shipped to Iran through third countries. … We have anything to do with a nuclear program going to Iran.”The latest seizure in Canada, the newspaper said, occurred the week of Sept. 20, which was when Iran was in the spotlight for building a secret uranium enrichment facility that some experts say could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Customs officers found a shipment of microchips that federal analysts identified as possible navigational chips.

Tests are continuing but Webb told the Post that the microchips, which had been purchased in the United States, Denmark and Japan and shipped from Canada to the United Arab Emirates, were “probably some type of guidance system.” Officials believe the end destination was Iran.

—Kay Cashman

DEC gets $160K grant for environmental justice work

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said Sept. 29 that it has received a three-year, $160,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is funded through EPA’s State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program.

Environmental justice is broadly defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, culture, education or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.

“With this grant, we are focusing on enhancing communications with rural areas on environmental topics,” said DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig.

The grant will also help to create an approach for integrating traditional knowledge into agency decisions, DEC said.

“The project will engage rural residents in shaping a community involvement process to ensure that local knowledge and concerns are addressed early in the department’s environmental permitting process,” said Sandy Harbanuk, DEC project manager.

—Kay Cashman

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