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Navigating north

Gas road Maps help companies with environmental regulations

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 04/00) - The first in a series of NWT oil and gas regulatory road maps will soon be made public.

The maps produced by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, are designed to show resource companies how to navigate through environmental rules and regulations.

Pierre Alvarez

"We started tinkering with pieces of the regulatory road map to see what it would take (to move a project through the environmental screening process)," says Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). CAPP's members are Canada's oil and gas companies.

Alvarez spoke at the recent NWT Chamber of Mines Geoscience Forum and a Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The first maps, which cover the Deh Cho region, took a year to compile.

The Deh Cho road map, entitled Oil and Gas Sector Approvals in the Northwest Territories - Southern Mackenzie Valley, is almost complete, but the guide is 200 pages.

Gwich'in, Sahtu and Inuvialuit regulatory road maps are next on the organization's agenda.

These documents will not cover how to move multi-jurisdictional projects, like a proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, through the regulatory maze, adds Alvarez.

The big challenge will be getting approvals in time to allow a project to proceed at a logical speed, he said.

"Seeing more of these decisions made up here is pretty important," he adds. "We've got to cut Ottawa-Hull out of some of this."

"Arctic gas and arctic issues are back to the forefront in Calgary," he added.

Interest in Mackenzie Delta gas is being driven by a huge projected increase in North American demand for fuel.

The annual average price so far this year for a gigajoule of gas is $4.20. That is almost double last years' annual average, according to CAPP.

But in the NWT, which potentially has the hottest markets, there is land issues," adds Alvarez. "We have a real land-access problem. If you can access the land, industry will show up," he said.