Second Lease Sale Held in Yukon Territory
About 104 square miles of virgin natural gas hunting grounds are
being thrown open within reach of potential routes for the proposed
Alaska pipeline by the Yukon Territory's second sale in two years.
Companies are being given until March 14 to bid on the parcel,
which borders on two areas that Anderson Exploration Ltd. scooped
up in the first sale, which was in turn the first one held by the
Yukon in two decades.
Located in an area called Eagle Plain, near the Arctic Circle,
the new offering is 185 miles north of Dawson City and lies beside
the Dempster Highway between the Yukon capital of Whitehorse and
Inuvik on the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories. The
prospective drilling area is about 180 miles north of the Alaska
Highway (also known as the Klondike Highway along its Canadian
legs). A 1994 estimate by the National Energy Board, relying on
very limited information from scant exploration activity in the
area, estimated that the Eagle Plain Basin harboured 83.7 Bcf of
natural gas and 11.1 million barrels of oil. Of 22 wells drilled in
the region since 1960, three successes have earned long-term rights
to hold property as "significant discovery licences" for Chevron
Canada Resources and Northern Cross (Yukon) Ltd. The new parcel is
adjacent to the old discoveries.
Yukon Premier Pat Duncan described the auction as keeping a
promise to make exploration opportunities available regularly,
following transfer of resource jurisdiction to the territory from
the federal government. The sale also makes advances towards
making northern gas activity into a matter of routine for the
industry compared to regulatory and community-relations marathons
of previous eras.
Duncan said the new auction incorporates results of a public
review since the first sale of drilling rights in 1999. "As a
result of comments received, we will incorporate requirements for
environmental and heritage considerations," the premier said. "Our
ultimate goal is to ensure that the development of the Yukon oil
and gas industry occurs in a responsible manner, respects our
environment and provides economic benefits to Yukoners."
Preliminary work towards a decision on northern pipeline routes
continues. Studies by Alaskan producers have sprouted a branch in
Calgary, where experts on regulatory and marketing affairs are
piecing together information on Canadian aspects of a U.S. project.
At the same time, consultants are putting together information
packages to present to Canadian authorities and working on
proposals for a co-operative regulatory approach intended to reduce
notoriously long review and approval procedures for northern
Gordon Jaremko, Calgary
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