The Yukon Territory hopes its resources will ignite another rush – this time for natural gas under Eagle Plains, an area not far from the scene of the 1890s Klondike gold stampede.

About 6 Tcf of natural gas and 425 million barrels of oil await drilling beneath Eagle Plains, the National Energy Board is being told. The prediction comes from Kirk Osadetz, an Alberta official of the Geological Survey of Canada, who is testifying as an expert witness for the Yukon government in the NEB review of the Mackenzie Gas Project.

The untapped bonanza should prompt the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline to make provision for eventually building a Yukon connection, adds Brian Love, who is the territorial energy department’s oil, gas and pipeline business development chief. Love suggests reviving an all but forgotten proposal of the 1970s energy boom, the “Dempster lateral,” a gas pipeline along the 670-kilometre (420-mile) Dempster Highway from the territorial capital of Whitehorse to the start of the Mackenzie line at Inuvik.

The Mackenzie project has acknowledged prospects of Yukon gas and oil discoveries, but says they are too remote, untried and speculative to justify making any plans for such a large branch line — or any link, at the moment. The big numbers are generated by new research using up-to-date methods, Osadetz said. “Earlier studies produced much more conservative estimates of undiscovered potential, evidencing a conservative bias characteristic of early estimates in basins that do not produce immediate commercial success.”

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