Coming down the pipe
Acho Dene Koe to pursue natural gas development

NNSL (Jun 04/99) - It was a given.

The Acho Dene Koe, sitting on one of the largest natural gas deposits in the country with the potential for many more discoveries, are starting to get involved in the development of the natural gas.

Acho Dene Koe Chief Harry Deneron signed an agreement in principle with Westcoast Energy last Thursday in Yellowknife. The deal is to create mutual benefits through the development of natural gas infrastructure in the southern Northwest Territories, according to a Westcoast press release.

Under the agreement, the Acho Dene Koe and Westcoast, which is headquartered in Vancouver, have agreed to jointly pursue business opportunities in natural gas gathering, processing, transportation and commercial and industrial gas services in the southern NWT.

"Now we have a significant interest in the development of our natural gas," Deneron said last week. "With Westcoast, we can build a long-term relationship and take advantage of long-term benefits. This is the first time Aboriginal people have had this kind of opportunity."

Shane Parrish, general manager of the Liard Valley Band Development Corp., said Westcoast was selected as a partner because they demonstrated a commitment to work with First Nations communities in the responsible development of natural gas infrastructure.

Westcoast Energy Inc. reportedly has assets of approximately $11 billion. The company's interests include natural gas gathering, processing, transmission, storage and distribution as well as power generation. Their existing pipeline facilities already stretch into the NWT and include the pipeline to Ranger's Pointed Mountain well.

Art Willms, president and CEO of Westcoast, said, "This agreement...reflects our long-standing commitment to ensure that local communities benefit from our operating activities."

NWT Community Mobilization is expected to help train the local workforce to help build upon the employment and business opportunities.