Yukon Government to Lobby Alaska Pipeline
Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. has recruited an early ally for its
effort to revive the dormant Alaska Natural Gas Transportation
System --- the government of Canada's Yukon Territory.
In Whitehorse, the Yukon capital, Economic Development Minister
Trevor Harding announced a pipeline unit has been added to his
department and is taking the initiative in starting discussions on
The decision made it plain that the Yukon sides with Foothills
in emerging competition to advance an Arctic gas transportation
megaproject. The step followed two weeks of meetings between Yukon
representatives and Foothills executives.
Harding said "our goal is to secure the Alaska Highway route."
Foothills and its owners, TransCanada PipeLines and Westcoast
Energy, continue to support the original ANGTS along the road
through the Yukon.
Also in contention to deliver northern gas is a newer group
called Arctic Resources (Alaska). Backed by Houston-based Municipal
Energy Resources Corp., Arctic proposes a Y-shaped alternative to
ANGTS with an underwater connection between the Mackenzie Delta and
Prudhoe Bay, then a route south via the Mackenzie Valley. The rival
to ANGTS is understood to be generating considerable support in the
Northwest Territories, although its leaders have yet to take sides
as plainly as the Yukon government.
The rivalry has been set off by growing belief in forecasts
that the "lower-48" United States market will expand to 30 Tcf per
year, generating strong prices for a decade or more. The
projections have also set off an exploration revival in the
Northwest Territories by a long lineup of producers ranging from
Chevron Canada Resources to Alberta Energy Co., as well as a study
revisiting the economics of tapping about 13 Tcf of reserves held
in the Mackenzie Delta-Beaufort Sea region by Shell Canada, Gulf
Canada and Imperial Oil. The exploration revival has begun going
beyond acquisitions of drilling leases into field activity, with
Schlumberger seismic-survey crews now being dispatched into Arctic
In Whitehorse, Harding said the Yukon government is also
establishing a pipeline advisory committee. The economic
development minister reported that while his department's new
pipeline unit has begun work, invitations to join the committee
have been sent to representatives of environmental, business, local
government and labor organizations. An olive branch has also been
extended to native leaders, for "government-to-government"
discussions, accepting aboriginal insistence that their communities
are self-governing equals of territorial authorities.
Gordon Jaremko, Calgary
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