August 03, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 94August 2001

Canadian government under pressure to resolve Native issues

TransCanada PipeLines and Westcoast Energy, the partners in Foothills Pipe Lines, have turned up the heat on the Canadian government to show leadership, or risk seeing the Mackenzie Delta fall behind the North Slope in the race to develop gas reserves. In meetings with cabinet ministers and officials this week, the two pipeline companies warned the government there can be no development of Arctic gas until unresolved aboriginal land claims are settled and a plan is in place for Natives to derive economic benefits from resource development.

The two companies hope to be participants in building pipelines from the Delta and North Slope.

Mike Stewart, a co-chief executive officer with Foothills, said the Canadian government must "make some progress on resolving these outstanding issues" if the Delta is to proceed.

The lobbying occurs as concerns build that the Delta producers' consortium, led by Imperial Oil, is already two months behind in obtaining agreement from aboriginal communities to take a one-third equity stake in a Mackenzie Valley pipeline.

The Deh Cho First Nation refused to sign an agreement, while the Sahtu First Nation has withdrawn its signature in favor of the proposal by Arctic Resources to offer 100 percent aboriginal ownership in its "over-the-top" scheme.

A spokesman for Imperial said full aboriginal support is essential to a Mackenzie Valley pipeline and that could still be achieved before the end of 2001.

But Stewart said land claims and federal financial support need urgent government involvement. He said that if aboriginal needs are met a Mackenzie Valley pipeline, costing US$2 million, could be built in advance of the Alaska Highway project, which he estimated at US$8 billion to US$10 billion.

Yukon government, aboriginals steadfast in ANWR opposition

The Yukon government and a small aboriginal community say they will continue expressing opposition to drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, counting on the U.S. Senate to share their concerns.

A spokesman for Yukon Premier Patricia Duncan said today the premier has not changed in her strong opposition, which she raised with Prime Minister Jean Chretien who relayed the concerns to President George W., Bush. But "obviously the people who want exploration in ANWR have a lot of support in the United States," the spokesman said.

Joe Linklater, chief of the 400-strong Vuntut Gwitchin in northern Yukon, said his community was "greatly disappointed" to hear the U.S. House of Representatives rejected attempts to block drilling.

He said the porcupine caribou, which use ANWR as a calving ground, are "the central component of our culture. If drilling were to take place it would devastate the caribou beyond recovery. In essence, that really means our culture would be devastated beyond recovery as well."

Linklater emphasized that the Vuntut Gwitchin are "not an environmental group ... we're a First Nations group that is worried about our way of life. It is scary to think about it. What kind of future will our children have?"

RCA schedules Northstar pipeline tariff settlement conference

The state Regulatory Commission of Alaska issued an order this week that grants BP Transportation (Alaska) Inc.s motion for the appointment of a settlement judge and conference regarding establishment of the initial tariff rate for the Northstar gas pipeline.

Blythe Marston was named the settlement judge and a formal settlement conference was set for 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 5 in RCAs east hearing room at 701 W. 8th Ave., Suite 300, in Anchorage.

Any party wishing to participate telephonically should contact Josie Morrow at 907 276-6222.

Petroleum News - Phone: 1-907 522-9469 - Fax: 1-907 522-9583
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