The natural gas is waiting, the communities are willing and theauthorities are prepared to co-operate any time producers andpipelines want to revive development in the Canadian north, theindustry is being told.
Northwest Territories Premier Stephen Kakfwi and Canada’sNational Energy Board are spreading the invitations. Kakfwi, a DeneNation leader from the Mackenzie Valley community of Fort GoodHope, delivered his share of the word to the annual meeting of theCanadian Energy Pipelines Association. The NEB is delivering theregulatory and geological message in a paper prepared for the 16thWorld Petroleum Congress, which will be held in the Canadian gascapital of Calgary June 11-15.
Kakfwi’s message was that if the largely native northernpopulation is allowed a fair share in the benefits of developmentand they will do better than tolerate it – they will push it along.The territorial premier said, “Today, in contrast to the 1970s,northern Aboriginal leaders favor nonrenewable resourcedevelopment. On Jan. 19, the Dene, Metis and Inuvialuit leadersannounced their unanimous support for the construction of aMackenzie Valley gas pipeline, provided that Aboriginal equity inand management of the pipeline can be worked out. Their position isfully supported by the government of the Northwest Territories. Wesupport development of our northern resources that brings lastingbenefits to northerners and is carried out in ways that protect thenorthern environment.”
Kakfwi pledged the territorial government’s backing for anypipeline project that emerges to compete with the early leader indevelopment proposals, a resurrection of the dormant Alaska NaturalGas Transportation System. He acknowledged that the Alaskan andYukon governments support ANGTS and its route along the AlaskaHighway. He insisted “we think the Mackenzie Valley is the superiorroute, not only for our economy and residents but for Canada too,both strategically and economically.”
While ANGTS is supported by a 1978 treaty between Canada and theUnited States, Kakfwi recalled that endorsements for the Mackenzieroute go back still farther to a 1970 Canadian federal pipelinepolicy. Even the northern inquiry by Justice Thomas Bergerpreferred a Mackenzie project over ANGTS, despite his report’s mainrecommendation of a 10-year moratorium on development to give thenorthern population time to settle land claims and prepare toparticipate in industry. Kakfwi pointed to Berger’s finding onwhere to locate a northern pipeline if one eventually is built. Thereport said, “The Mackenzie Valley is a natural transportationroute that has already seen several decades of industrialdevelopment . . . it is feasible, from an environmental point ofview, to build a pipeline and to establish an energy corridor alongthe Mackenzie Valley.” Kakfwi pointed out a successful start hasalready been made on the corridor, with the 16-year-old Enbridgeoil pipeline running south from Imperial Oil Ltd.’s field at NormanWells.
Gas will be available in the north in spades to fill a newpipeline, suggests a paper being submitted to the WPC by LauraRichards of the NEB. An “abstract” or advance summary of thedocument says the board recognizes that “growing concern aboutNorth American conventional natural gas supply and the increasingdemand for environmental reasons is giving rise to renewedinterest.”
The NEB paper reveals that the latest estimate of northernCanadian energy-resource potential is 169 Tcf and 12 billionbarrels of liquids, “along with vast quantities of non-conventionalgas hydrates.” The NEB’s staff researchers are also thinking abouta double-barreled northern pipeline which has often been discussedin industry circles. The idea is to make a northern energy corridorwork by adding deliveries of liquids, especially includingby-products of gas such as “condensates” or natural gasoline. TheNEB’s staff, which often does advance work on potential majorprojects to make sure the board is ready when the filings arrive,says it is also reviewing factors that add up to “encouragement fora natural gas and liquid pipeline infrastructure reaching theMackenzie Delta.”
Gordon Jaremko, Calgary
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