Making suggestions
Paramount told what it will take

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Oct 01/99) - It seems that Paramount Resources Ltd. and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have reached an understanding that should allow Paramount to move its equipment to their proposed well sites near Fort Liard.

According to Hugh Klassen, corporate compliance officer with Paramount, a DFO official was flown over the area in question by helicopter so she could see the site of the proposed all-weather road and the well sites.

"And it seems that we have cleared up a lot of their misunderstandings," Klassen said Friday.

Karen Ditz, area habitat biologist with the DFO, said she and two representatives from an environmental consulting business, along with a construction supervisor from Paramount, did indeed fly over the area on Wednesday. Recommendations were then provided to Paramount as to how they could build an access road with modifications that would ensure no harmful disturbance of fish habitat and therefore would eliminate the need for a permit, according to Ditz. It's now up to Paramount to observe the recommendations.

"At this point I assume that they will comply," said Ditz. "They may be subject to a Fisheries inspection... it would be wise of them to follow (the recommendations). In consulting with their people, I have every reason to believe that their intention is to follow through with that."

Klassen said, as it turns out, an access road may actually no longer be required with the onset of colder temperatures and passable frozen ground.

"We can't waste three weeks building the road if we're going to have frost anyways. We need to get our rigs in and we'll probably go in with rubber-tired equipment."

Ditz said she was never informed of any such alternative plan. If that were the case, it would be subject to review because an amendment would be needed to their application, she added.

Not building a road also means the Acho Dene Koe will lose out on the chance to get the contract to do that work. Nevertheless, the Fort Liard band still stands to gain from a joint-venture agreement on the pipeline.

"That agreement has gone out in draft form and it has gone back and forth," Klassen said. "I don't think we're far off there as far as I can see. I think we have agreement, basically, in principle."

The approval for that pipeline still has to come from the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Authority, however.

"They're the last ones in the line up as far as getting approval even to drill the well," Klassen said. "If they do call for an E.A. (environmental assessment) then we're sunk (in terms of time)."

The Ranger, Chevron, Canadian Forest application for a pipeline is undergoing an environmental assessment and public hearings were held on the matter last week. Klassen noted that the gas they will produce is sour while Paramount's find is sweet gas, so that could make a difference, he said.