Paramount permit issued
Gas company cleared to start work

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT LIARD (Oct 15/99) - Calgary-based Paramount Resources Ltd. has received clearance from DIAND to build a road, move its gas rigs to its well sites by barge and begin drilling delineation wells for its F-36 sweet gas find south of Fort Liard.

A land-use permit to that effect was issued by DIAND last Thursday and after a 70-day wait, it came as a great relief to Paramount, corporate compliance officer Hugh Klaassen, acknowledged. There had been a possibility that an environmental assessment would have been required on that aspect of the project alone, but that was avoided, he said.

Kent Halvorson, resource management officer for DIAND, said the permit was delayed because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and RWED required more information on the initiative.

The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board had to then give it authorization before DIAND could issue the permit.

The permitting process should be completed within 42 days, except when further environmental studies are required, Halvorson noted. He added that the agencies in question were obviously satisfied with the feedback they received from Paramount.

"They said they had no further concerns -- everything was going to be addressed that they were worried about. So we should be able to mitigate all the impacts," he explained.

After receiving the permit, Paramount wasted no time in preparing to ship three gas rigs across the river. They plan to have three delineation wells drilled by Christmas, according to Klaassen. The project will involve 10 well sites in total.

Klaassen said the Acho Dene Koe will figure prominently in the camp and catering aspect of the project. Although Klaassen said building an all-weather access road becomes impractical due to the delay in the permit, the Acho Dene Koe will be involved in making improvements to the existing road.

Shane Parrish, general manager of the Liard Valley Band Development Corporation, said the permit came as welcome news to the Acho Dene Koe.

"We were quite happy because we want to get back in there and get back to work. We were just finishing up Chevron's work and if this project didn't come around we would have been sitting around for a while," Parrish said, adding that the band's joint-venture drilling company, Akita/Satcho Drilling, will be involved in some of the drilling.

Paramount won another victory of sorts Thursday when a hearing before national regulators determined that the National Energy Board had no jurisdiction over the proposed pipeline project, submitted by Shiha Energy Transmission Ltd, which consists of Paramount Resources Ltd, Berkley Petroleum Corp. and the Acho Dene Koe's ADK Holdings Ltd. Klaassen said Acho Dene Koe Chief Harry Deneron was at the hearing and gave a "very impassioned speech."

Twenty-four kilometres of the 200- kilometre pipeline to B.C. would run above the 60th parallel and is therefore still subject to the regulatory process, he noted. The Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board will decide whether or not an environmental assessment is required.

"We're just waiting with bated breath on that one," said Klaassen.