Exploring in Liard Valley
Development corporation finding wealth of services

by Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

FORT LIARD (Feb 09/98) - Nestled in the far southwest corner of the North, the Fort Liard Band Development Corporation is quietly forging ahead with significant benefits for the community through oil and gas exploration, the corporation's general manager said.

"We're doing some amazing stuff here. We're creating a lot of employment for the (Acho Dene Koe) band," Shane Parrish said.

The economic benefits come from resource companies utilizing development corporation companies.

Among the corporation's companies are Beaver Enterprises Construction Ltd., Deh Cho Air Ltd., Deh Cho Helicopters and Liard Fuel Centres. They employ many of Fort Liard's 600 people.

"The goal of the corporation is to hire local people but we find we're bringing in people from other communities," Parrish said.

"If anything, we're expanding too rapidly."

Heavy equipment company Beaver Enterprises, employs about 50 people. In all about 70 people work for the corporation's companies.

A seismic survey, scheduled to start in the Liard area this week, will create jobs for another 30 people, Parrish said.

"There has been a lot of government talk about creating an environment for investment (but we're) opening the area for oil and gas exploration on our own."

In all, the corporation is working with eight exploration companies -- among them Shell and Ranger -- looking for oil and gas in the Fort Liard area, Parrish said.

"If Ranger hits, you'll hear a big bang in Fort Liard," Parrish said.

Currently, the only producer is Amoco out of Calgary which has been drawing gas from its Pointed Mountain well for about 20 years.

Much of the work is seasonal but if significant discoveries are made and more companies move to production, said Parrish, new business opportunities will arise including the possibility of joint ownership between the band and resource companies.

Another interesting point, said Parrish, is the fact that this is being done without a land claim agreement.

"Our relationship with Liard has been excellent," Paramount Resources Ltd. operations manager Hugh Klaassen said.

"We pride ourselves in getting involved in frontier activities," he said.

Paramount has a agreement with the Liard development corporation on camp construction.

About a month ago, Paramount started drilling its first wildcat well in the Liard area. The company is hoping to drill three others.

"If we drill only one it will be expensive. If we roll the dice four times chances (of hitting a resource) will be a lot better."

The company has spent about $2 million on exploration in the NWT so far.