July 17, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 79July 2001

Northwest Territories premier lashes out at dissident aboriginals

Northwest Territories Premier Stephen Kakfwi has used his toughest language yet in warning dissident aboriginal groups that they risk losing a chance to own part of a proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline.

He said the Deh Cho and Sahtu first nations leaders who have balked at signing an agreement with Mackenzie Delta gas owners are playing a dangerous game.

"These are high stakes negotiations," he said during a Calgary visit July 16. "So if it all falls apart, it falls apart."

Kakfwi indicated frustration that the two groups seemed ready to "air all our dirty laundry in front of everybody (when) we are on the world stage.

"If we are going to have little temper tantrums and petty little things that we air in front of the whole world, I guess that's how we do it," he said.

The Deh Cho are weighing their options, while the Sahtu are siding with Houston-based Arctic Resources, which is offering 100 percent aboriginal ownership in a pipeline. The Delta gas owners have proposed a one-third native stake in a C$3 billion project.

Industry sources are increasingly concerned that aboriginal procrastination could scuttle negotiations, laving the Alaska Highway route to win by default.

But a spokesman for Imperial Oil, the Delta's lead producer, said the consortium is "not overly concerned with where things are today."

However, Doug Cardinal, a representative of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which is negotiating with the Delta owners, said that if aboriginals press their case too far "we'll end up empty-handed again."

Oil and gas lease sale set by Mental Health Trust

The Mental Health Trust Land Office will hold a competitive oil and gas lease sale Sept. 26 covering approximately 200,000 acres of trust land in the north and west Cook Inlet basin.

Included in the sale are tracts north of Cook Inlet near the Beluga River, tracts north of the inlet and east of the Little Susitna River, tracts west of Big Lake, a tract north of Palmer and tracts in the Chickaloon area.

The trust said that almost all adjacent lands, public and private, are or have been the focus of oil and gas leasing, exploration or production efforts. Some of the lands are in the state-approved Pioneer unit in the Houston-Wasilla area. Present surface land use ranges from improved subdivision lands to unimproved rural areas.

Leases will be for five years with a minimum bonus bid of $5 per acre. The royalty will be 10.5 percent for the first five years of the lease term and 12.5 percent thereafter. If coalbed methane is the only resource being produced by year five, the lease will be terminated as to all other non-producing horizons at that time.

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